‘Profit’ in guise of beef sales at affordable price

Under the initiative, beef, chicken, mutton, milk, and eggs are being sold at 30 designated spots in Ramadan in Dhaka.
Prothom Alo

Livestock services department has been selling beef at an ‘affordable price’ in Dhaka city in the holy month of Ramadan.

But investigation and discussion with the officials of the department revealed ‘a business’ is being run in the guise of selling the meat at an affordable price.

A total of 448 cows were supplied from government-owned farms for selling beef at an affordable price while the farm owners association is also supplying cows.

The average cost of per kilogram beef stands at Tk 528 calculating the prices of cattle provided by the government farms and private farms (at Tk 600 per kg). However, the government is selling per kg at Tk 600 and 650 at designated spots in Dhaka city. It can be mentioned that the government is providing all the operational costs of sales of beef.

Livestock department’s director general Md Reajul Huq and Bangladesh Dairy Farmers Association’s (BDFA) president Imran Hossain, however, said that there is no chance of making profit from this initiative and they are selling beef incurring loss.

Reajul Huq claimed the BDFA has been continuing sales of beef considering public interest.

But detailed information on the source, price or weight of cattle outside the ones supplied by government farms could not be availed despite several visits to livestock services officials and BDFA leaders due to their reluctance. There was an effort to conceal the information by the concerned authorities.

On condition of anonymity, two officials of the livestock services department told Prothom Alo that BDFA leaders are ‘taking credit’ in the name of selling beef at an affordable price. But over Tk 10 million profit would be made from the initiative.

The two officials said while BDFA leaders take credit for selling a meager amount of beef to the public, they thwart any initiative that can possibly reduce the price of beef in the market as a whole.

‘Profit’ in beef sales

Under the initiative, beef, chicken, mutton, milk, and eggs are being sold at 30 designated spots in Ramadan in the capital. The department of livestock services supplies 50 per cent beef, and the BDFA supplies the rest. The livestock department said a total of 448 cows were sold to BDFA from seven government-owned farms to sell at an affordable price.

The price of the cattle was determined through the live weight system. It was learnt from the sources at the government farms that the average price of per kg was Tk 293 in live weight.

Officials of the agricultural marketing department and meat traders said that 55 per cent of a cow's total weight is saleable meat and bones.

Secretary general of Bangladesh Meat Traders Association Rabiul Alam told Prothom Alo that apart from meat and bones, organs such as liver, head, legs and skin can be sold.

Government dairy and cattle development farm located in Chattogram’s Hathazari supplied 70 cows. Malay Kanti Modak, deputy director of the farm, told Prothom Alo that limbs are not included in the 55 per cent.
As per calculation, if the price of per kg cattle at live condition is Tk 293, then the price of per kg saleable meat is Tk 430 (taking into account the price of organs).

BDFA president Imran Hossain claimed to Prothom Alo that 61,600 kg of meat will be available from the cows supplied from the government farms while a total of 145,000 kg will be sold at an affordable price during Ramadan. The rest of 83,400 kg of meat are to be supplied by farmers.

BDFA said it is not making any profit by supplying cows. According to the agriculture marketing department, the production cost of one kg of meat is Tk 588. Price of per kg beef stands at Tk 600 even if some profit is made (Tk 12 per kg) in the cattle supplied by the farm owners. If the farm owner association supplies 83,400 kg of meat at the rate of Tk 600 per kg, still the average price of the meat will be Tk 528.

Agriculture marketing department on 15 March set the price of 29 products. Price of per kg beef was fixed at Tk 664 at that time. Earlier in December, BDFA and meat traders association started selling per kg beef at Tk 650 in an initiative overseen by the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection. But the initiative could not last for a month.

No impact in market

The department of livestock services said prices would remain stable due to sales of beef at affordable prices. However, the sale of 5000 kg beef per day could not impact the market positively. According to TCB, beef prices have increased by Tk 30 to Tk 50 per kg compared to a month ago. The price is now Tk 750-780 per kg.

Stakeholders said the livestock ministry and department should take more initiatives to reduce the price of meat in the market.

Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) president Ghulam Rahman told Prothom Alo that the meat that is being sold under government management is very insufficient compared to the demand. As a result it has no impact on overall market management. However, some low-income people are getting animal meat at a slightly lower price due to the initiative.