Dhaka, July 11 – The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many changes to people’s normal life with a growing dependence on virtual platforms as physical distancing is advised by health experts to limit transmission of the coronavirus. Few could have imagined the annual hajj would be restricted to just the Muslims inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. But that’s the reality today as physical distancing remains crucial amid coronavirus pandemic.
With it, the second biggest Muslim festival, Eid-ul-Azha, for which animal sacrifice is an integral part, is also to be observed with severe restrictions.
The government has come up with some ideas to avoid risk in the cattle markets through proper management.
Amid the pandemic, a large part of cattle purchase is expected to go online this year, say officials.
In Bangladesh for the past few years, online cattle trade has been gaining ground and this year it is likely to surpass previous levels.
Due to the safety regulations for preventing the spread of COVID-19, the digital platforms are gearing up and have the potential to surpass the offline haats.
Currently, there are more than 100 online vendors; commercial enterprises and individuals included, who are ready to sell sacrificial animals.
Some are already taking bookings through various groups and pages on Facebook.
A government-backed digital platform, ‘Food for Nation’ started registration of sacrificial animal sellers Tuesday.
This initiative of Digital Haat was taken by Innovation Design and Entrepreneurship Academy (iDEA) under its “Startup Bangladesh” banner with support from the ICT Division.
Elsewhere, local-based Facebook groups have also started operating. Individual farm owners are also optimistic about a better response to the online market.
Iftekhar Ahmed, owner of Hamdan Agro project said that due to the rising risk of coronavirus, even those in remote areas will consider the online markets for buying sacrificial animals this year.
“Selling cattle online will help the individual farmers greatly as the share of middlemen will come down,” he said, adding that those who were skeptical before about the online trade will have to opt for it.
He noted that there will always be a risk of getting infected by COVID-19 if someone plans to visit any haat in this period.
“The cattle farmers may see the demand for livestock higher than supply this year,” he added.
Iftekhar said that his social media page for selling cattle is getting a good response especially from residents of Dhaka. “I’ll start accepting bookings seven to 10 days prior to the Eid day and then deliver the cattle all at once to minimise the risk.”
Speaking on the boom of online animal trade, the E-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (E-CAB) General Secretary Abdul Wahed Tamal said that the sale of sacrificial animals online is expected to increase.
However, he also noted that the approximate sales number cannot be predicted so early.
“We may determine an approximate figure after observing the transactions taking place in the next two weeks,” he said.
He also confirmed that E-CAB will launch a digital platform to facilitate cattle sellers and buyers within a few days.
“We are certain that over the coming years, the sale of sacrificial animals online will definitely increase,” he said. In 2018, Tamal informed about 30 percent of the total sacrificial animal sales happened online. Two years later given a different global situation that number may go up to 50 percent.
While Tamal highlighted the online benefits such as no hassle with an unhygienic environment or saving times of both buyer and seller, he also warned that the public should be cautious before making transactions with sketchy online parties. – News Desk with UNB