The government of Bangladesh has declared that it will provide protection to any growing industry, and yet it has totally ignored this policy when it comes to beef. In fact, despite Bangladesh being self sufficient in livestock, and thus in beef and mutton, a decision to import beef is under consideration. That is absurd.
In parliamentary democracy, there is a matter of collective responsibility. The state minister for livestock is clearly against import. And there can be no justification to import beef at this juncture.
It is most unfortunate that the commerce secretary has readily and positively responded to Brazil’s offer to sell us beef at low rates in exchange for garments. Without a second thought, the secretary simply said that this would be beneficial for both countries. Actually, the commerce secretary could take a page from Brazil’s book about how to promote national interests. The president of the apex body of garment manufacturers and exporters BGMEA made no secret about her position on the import of beef. She said, at the ‘request’ of the commerce ministry, they had submitted a proposal in this regard. But she added that it was the government’s responsibility to look into whether there was another other factor that could be taken into consideration regarding the import of beef.
It is only natural that the local producers will be harmed if we import products in which we are self-sufficient. It is a laudable achievement that in just a matter of years Bangladesh managed to become self-sufficient in livestock and the government must be given due credit for this. But it is now totally confusing why the government is even considering beef import.
Since the local producers have the capacity to meet the local beef demands, there can be no justification for import. We must say ‘no’ to beef import, in the interests of the local industry. It hasn’t been long that Bangladesh produces a surplus of livestock and investment is pouring in to the sector due to its viability.
Around Tk 30 billion has been invested in the livestock sector at present and around 15 million people are directly and indirectly involved in the industry. This sector has opened doors for so many young entrepreneurs, has rendered then self-reliant. Their interests must be protected.
We must look into how to develop this sector further. Rather than being importers, we should be exporters of beef. Developing this sector also will lead to the production of organic fertiliser and milk. This is will be a boost to our agricultural sector and also for our dairy industry.
We consider import of beef to be suicidal. We hope that the government moves away from this decision.