Dhaka, Sept 9 (UNB) – The youth is said to be the driving force behind the development of any country. This is also true in Bangladesh’s case. The country has been witnessing surplus production of cattle over the last three consecutive years, thanks to farmers, particularly the educated youths, for making a miracle in the sector.
According to statistics provided by the Department of Livestock Services (DLS), a total of 1,06,14,280 cattle, including 57,11,434 cows and buffalos, were slaughtered during the Eid-ul-Azha celebrated in Bangladesh on August 12 while the country had a stock of 1, 17, 88, 563 cattle.
“We’ve around 11, 74, 283 lakh surplus cattle this year. Hope, it’ll continue to rise as the number of cattle farm is increasing day by day,” said Dr ABM Khaleduzzaman, assistant director (farms) of DLS.
He said the highest number of 25, 53,774 cattle, including 14, 35, 614 cows and buffalos, were slaughtered during the eid in Dhaka division while the lowest 4, 93, 905 in Sylhet division.
At that time, the DLS officials said, the Chattogram division had the highest number of 1.35 lakh surplus cattle while the lowest 20,000 in Barisal division.
Khaleduzzaman said the availability of local cattle started increasing in Bangladesh since 2017 helping it attain autarky in the sector.
Citing statistics, he said the country had 6.5 lakh surplus cattle in 2017 while 8 lakh in 2018.
What behind the miracle
When India imposed a strict restriction on cattle export in 2014 it ultimately turned out to be a blessing for Bangladesh, DLS Director General Hiresh Ranjan Bhowmik told UNB.
“We took it as a challenge to attain autarky in cattle by boosting local production. We started encouraging local farms to increase their cattle production. We also provided them various trainings, suggestions and logistic supports and asked our officials to maintain regular contact with them,” he said.
The result was remarkable as the country had been able to meet over 80 percent demand with local cattle in 2015. “Later, we gradually increased the number of cattle farms and farmers. But our task became easier in 2017 as many educated youths started setting up farms, helping us attain the autarky in cattle. It can be considered as a fitting response to the crisis created following India’s ban on cattle export.”
Hiresh said around 5, 77,416 commercial farms and many other cattle farmers across the country are now engaged in animal husbandry. “We’re working to encourage more people and youths to engage in dairy and cattle-fattening sector.”
He said it is also remarkable that cattle farms have been set up even in the vicinity of the capital city.
The DLS SG said they are providing the framers and farm owners with various trainings and support to follow scientific methods in rearing cattle.
Prof Md Nurul Islam, dean of Animal Husbandry Faculty at Bangladesh Agricultural University, said the cattle sector has developed in the country with the united efforts of the government, NGOs, private farms and farmers.
He said many educated youths are now setting up cattle and dairy farms as it is relatively easier to make money by rearing cattle. “Seeing the success of different farms and ordinary farmers, many others are getting inspired to rear cattle.”
Prof Islam said effective programmes for genetic development of cattle, crossbreeding local cattle with high-yielding species like Brahman and Friesian, artificial breeding technique, proper medication for cattle population, Bangladesh Bank’s soft loan for setting up farms and extensive training for cattle farmers helped the sector get a boost.
He said the government should take steps to make the progress the sector has achieved sustainable. “Cattle feed should be cheaper and free from harmful medicines, and framers should be encouraged to follow organic farming methods.”
Mohammad Shah Emran, general secretary of Bangladesh Dairy Farmers’ Association (BDFA), said the investment in setting up cattle farms marked a significant rise over the last five years as they could create many entrepreneurs.
“Apart from educated youths, many expatriate Bangladeshis are also making huge investment in the sector. This is the main reason why the sector is growing fast,” he observed.
Kurigram, Sept 8 (UNB) – Farmers in Kurigram, one of the worst-affected districts in this year’s floods, have been hit hard by drought after the water receded. Many of them planted transplanted Aman to overcome losses inflicted by flood but the fields are drying up and irrigation is costly.
Local farmers said many of them could not plant transplanted Aman due to a lack of saplings and water. Those, who have already planted Aman, are trying to protect the field by irrigating them. Many others who are planting Aman are irrigating their fields.
The existing situation has forced many farmers to keep their fields fallow.
Apart from the current crisis, the low market price of paddy is also discouraging many farmers from cultivating Aman, they said.
Sources at the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) said 1,22,000 hectares of land was earmarked for the cultivation of hybrid, HYV (high-yielding variety) and local variety paddy during the current transplanted Aman season.
So far, the farmers have sowed Aman on 1,05,000 hectares – hybrid variety on 9,575 hectares, local variety on 12,470 hectares and HYV variety on 82,955 hectares, the DAE said.
In Naora village under Ulipur upazila’s Dhamsreni union, the UNB correspondent found farmer Abul Kashem irrigating his land with a shallow machine. “I sowed transplanted Aman after the flood water receded. Now, I’ve to irrigate the field regularly due to the lack of rain,” he said.
Kashem was clearly frustrated. “I’m cultivating paddy only to ensure fodder for my cattle. The paddy price is low but at least I’ll have food for my livestock,” he said.
Abdul Hye, a farmer from Sardarpara village in the upazila’s Doldolia union, said he cultivated BIRRI-48 (Bhadai) variety paddy on his field. “I waited for rain in vain and later decided to irrigate the land and sow the seed,” he added.
Bablu Ram Bormon of Narikelbari village in Ulipur echoed Hye.
Akkas Ali from the Pirmabud village in Chakirposhar union of Rajarhat upazila, said he decided not to cultivate paddy this season due to drought and low prices. “I gave three acres of my land for sharecropping instead,” he said.
Akkas said he sowed local variety Kataribhog paddy on 25 decimals. “I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to harvest the paddy due to drought,” he said.
The UNB correspondent visited many areas in the district and found the familiar sight.
Dr Mostafizur Rahman, Deputy Director of DAE, said many seedbeds were damaged due to flood.
“A community seedbed has been made on 100 acres of land for supplying seed to the affected farmers,” he said. “We’re distributing them among 6,000 farmers.”
Bagerhat, Sept 7 (UNB) – ‘Bagda’ shrimp farmers in the district are counting huge losses due to decline in production caused by virus attack and drastic fall in its prices.
Local farmers said a huge quantity of ‘Bagda’ shrimp die in many enclosures in different areas of the district a few months back due to drought and virus attack, leading to the fall in production.
The supply of ‘Bagda’ in local wholesale markets is poor even during the peak season of shrimp while its export accounted for 80 percent of total frozen food export last year, they said.
While visiting Barakpur wholesale fish market in sadar upazila, the UNB correspondent found that ‘Bagda’ variety of shrimp is being sold at relatively lower prices compared to the previous year due to decline in demand and its small size.
Though the prices of ‘Golda’ variety was normal but ‘Bagda’ was selling at Tk 600 to Tk 750 per kg, Tk 300-400 less than the previous year, causing frustration among the shrimp cultivators.
The correspondent found the same scenario at the wholesale fish markets at Foltita in Fakirhat upazila and Foyla Bazar in Rampal upazila.
Asad Ali, a trader of Barakpur fish wholesale market, said, “I have 35 fish enclosures on 150 bighas of land. However, viruses were found in the enclosures during the Bangla months of ‘Chaitra' and 'Baishakh' this year. Within three to four days after the start of virus attack, most of the ‘Bagda’ shrimps died.”
Forty to fifty thousand taka is needed to grow ‘Bagda’ on one bigha of land but these are now being sold only at Tk 25000-30,000, he said adding it would be difficult for them to continue its cultivation in the future without government support.
M Chanchal Sheikh of Sundorghona village of sadar upazila said, “This year I cultivated Bagda shrimp on 10 bighas of land by taking loans of Tk6-7lakh. But all the shrimps died after virus attack. So far, I could not sell a single shrimp."
“I am cultivating shrimp for the last 20 years. Earlier, I used to make money by growing shrimp, but now I am incurring losses," said Nasir Sheikh of Badokhali village.
He sought government support for ensuring virus-free shrimp farming and also its increased prices in the international market.
Bagerhat District Shrimp Farmers Association president Fakir Mahitul Islam said shrimp cultivation is being affected due to climate change.
He stressed the need for further exploration of the international market, and providing incentives and loan on soft conditions to Bagda farmers to continue its cultivation.
District fisheries officer Dr Md Khaled Kanak said inadequte rain due to climate change, rise in temperature and salinity are also affecting Bagda cultivation.
He said if farmers cultivate shrimp following the scientific method instead of traditional one their production will increase.
According to the Fisheries Department, there are 78709 shrimp enclosures--35704 Bagda and 42975 Galda enclosures-- in the district and around 60,000 farmers are involved in shrimp cultivation.
Tokyo (Japan), Sept 7 (UNB) - The international community needs to focus more on repatriation of Rohingyas to their place of origin in Rakhine State instead of focusing only on their food, shelter and healthcare issues, says a Japanese South Asian affairs expert.
“We’ve to work on how to bring them (Rohingyas) back to their original country (Myanmar),” Ryohei Kasai, visiting researcher at Center for South Asian Studies, Gifu Women’s University, told UNB.
The diplomat-turned-researcher said any refugee crisis has many dimensions but distributing food, providing shelter and healthcare services is one of the approaches to deal with the refugee issue. “[But] that shouldn’t be only approach,” he said.
Kasai said they know the Japanese government has spoken to Myanmar government, including Aung San Suu Kyi and military officials, to resolve the matter.
Japanese Foreign Minister Tara Kono also spoke to his Myanmar counterpart to convince Naypyidaw so that they take back the Rohingyas, he said.
"We've been asking [Myanmar] to do that. Of course, more should be done," Kasai said, adding that the international community should help Bangladesh to ease the burden on it due to the Rohingya crisis.
Japan has already shared some “preliminary ideas” with Bangladesh that can help expedite the Rohingya repatriation process as the country, being a common friend of Bangladesh and Myanmar, does not want to see “prolongation” of the Rohingya situation.
Japanese Foreign Minister Kono floated the ideas during a bilateral meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart AK Abdul Momen held in Dhaka recently.
Kono clearly mentioned that they do not want prolongation of this situation but hoped that the repatriation process will be expedited. The Japanese minister, who visited Bangladesh thrice and Rohingya camps twice, also visited Myanmar to discuss the issue with its leadership.
Japan has already shared some “preliminary ideas” with Bangladesh that can help expedite the Rohingya repatriation process. File photo/AP
Asked about any tripartite meeting among Bangladesh, Japan and Myanmar to find a solution, a diplomat here told UNB that there is no concrete plan and no particular date is fixed to have such a meeting.
A Japanese government source said they are with Bangladesh to assist and realise repatriation of the forcibly displaced people as early as possible. “We'll continue to support Bangladesh to realise early repatriation of Rohingyas,” the source said.
Japanese expert Kasai praised Bangladesh for hosting such a big number of people from Myanmar which is a big burden for Bangladesh. "I'm very concerned about the refugee issue," he said.
Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas. More than 730,000 of them fled to Bangladesh to escape a vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing since August 25, 2017.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe showed his deep respect for the government of Bangladesh for generously accepting and protecting the Rohingyas on humanitarian ground. The two countries share the importance of stability in Cox’s Bazar from the perspective of enhancing connectivity and securing regional stability.
On May 29, Prime Minister Abe held a 50-minute meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina in Japan, and discussed ways to find a “durable and early solution” to the Rohingya crisis.
But attempts to send back the Rohingyas failed twice.
Despite all preparations, no Rohingya turned up on August 22 to accept the “voluntary” repatriation offer, prompting authorities to suspend the process for the day.
The first batch of Rohingyas was scheduled to return on November 15 last year but it was also halted amid the unwillingness of Rohingyas to go back for the lack of a congenial atmosphere in the Rakhine State.
The two countries signed a repatriation deal on November 23, 2017, but there has been little progress.
The Rohingya crisis has put a tremendous pressure on Bangladesh. File photo/AP
On July 29, Bangladesh handed a fresh list of 25,000 Rohingyas from around 6,000 families to Myanmar for verification before their repatriation.
With the latest list, Bangladesh has so far handed the names of around 55,000 Rohingyas to the Myanmar and around 8,000 of them have been verified. Myanmar only cleared 3,450 Rohingyas for beginning the repatriation.
On January 16 last year, Bangladesh and Myanmar inked a document on “Physical Arrangement”, which was supposed to facilitate the repatriation. It stipulates that the repatriation will be completed preferably within two years from the start.
Dhaka, Sept 6 (UNB) - The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has started the process to procure modern technology-based electronic fiscal devices (EFDs), aiming to check VAT evasion both at the retail and wholesale levels.
Sources at the NBR said it has already placed a work order to procure 10,000 EFDs spending Tk 317 crore to install those at 24 types of businesses, including hotels, restaurants, fast-food shops, confectionaries, jewellers, beauty parlors, furniture shops, RMG or boutique shops, department stores, general or super shops, wholesalers and large retail stores.
The revenue collecting authority will gradually procure around one lakh EFDs.
An NBR senior official said the government announced to start the operation of EFDs in the beginning of the current fiscal year and it placed the work order as part of that.
He said SZZT Electronics Company Limited, a Chinese company, will deliver the devices and the NBR will supply those to different business entities after their delivery.
The NBR official hoped that it would be possible to deliver the EFDs to the business entities within the next one month. "The EFD will be helpful in bringing transparency in VAT payment plugging the loopholes to evade taxes," he said.
The government earlier made the EFD use mandatory in 24 types of business entities in city corporation areas and district towns to check VAT evasion. The NBR has already issued an order in this regard.
The new EFDs will replace the electronic cash register (ECR) and the point of sale (POS).
According to the order, installation of EFDs is mandatory at the outlets where the annual turnover exceeds the VAT free ceiling, which means Tk 50 lakh a year.
The NBR is saying that the EFD is the upgraded version of the ECR, which is used by business houses.
If any business entity does not use the device or any deviation in using it is proved then the entity will have to pay Tk 20,000-50,000 in fine. If such an offence is committed repeatedly then the NBR will lock the Business Identification Number (BIN).
The EFDs will be connected online with a server at the NBR. Any entry from a particular business entity will be registered at the NBR server.
"This will help bring transparency, and remove the scope to evade tax, giving a boost to revenue collection," the NBR official said.
He also mentioned that customers would be able to know if the VAT they paid goes to the national exchequer as they will receive a code that would be generated by the NBR's central server.
The NBR had made the e-cash mandatory in 2008 for 11 types of businesses -- hotels, restaurants, confectionaries, jewelers, beauty salons, wholesalers and large retail stores. But the initiative did not achieve the desired success.
Besides, many businesses do not use the e-cash register even after its installation in their efforts to evade VAT allegedly in connivance with field officials of the revenue authority.
The move to install EFDs comes following advice from then Finance Minister AMA Muhith to introduce an EFD management system to combat non-payment of VAT at the retail and wholesale levels.
Several thousand shops now use electronic cash registers and point-of-sale machines. However, not all use the device to issue sales invoices to customers in a bid to evade VAT and hide actual transaction figures from taxmen.
The revenue collection target for the NBR for the running fiscal year has been fixed at Tk 3,25,600 crore.
Of the grand amount, Tk 1,13,912 crore will come from income, profit and capital taxes, while Tk 1,23,067 crore will be contributed by VAT. And supplementary tax will provide 48,153 crore while Tk 36,498 crore will come from import duty, Tk 54 from export duty, Tk 2,239 crore from the excise duty and Tk 1,677 crore as other taxes.