Meat Export Controversy: Govt Urges Bangladesh To Resume Meat Import From India

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Government of India urges Bangladesh to resume meat import from India. Representation picture.

Following the ban of meat import from India since April this year, the Government of India has requested the Sheikh Hasina government to resume meat import from India. Though it is not clear if the decision of the Bangladesh government has something to do with “irresponsible” statements made from time to time by some ruling party politicians about Bangladesh, media reports from Bangladesh say that the neighbouring country has banned the import of meat from India for the past few months.

Syed Khalique Ahmed

NEW DELHI—While domestic meat traders complain of serious harassment and intimidation by the authorities ever since BJP acquired political power at the Centre with former Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, the Government of India has urged neighbouring Bangladesh to resume import of meat from India because embargo on meat business has hit traders in both countries.

While it is not clear if Bangladesh’s action is motivated by “irresponsible” statements made from time to time by some senior politicians of the ruling party with regard to the neighbouring country, Bangladeshi media reports say that Bangladesh traders are not importing meat from India for the past few months after changes in Bangladesh’s import policy in April this year.

Under the new laws of the neighbouring country, the import of meat in Bangladesh is allowed only after approval by its Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock.

The Financial Express of Bangladesh, in a report a few days ago, has claimed that the Indian Embassy in Dhaka has urged the Government of Bangladesh to resume the import of meat from India. 

India had been exporting frozen meat to Bangladesh for the last 7-8 years. India currently exports frozen meat to about 70 countries in the world, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Brunei, Seychelles, Mauritius, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, and the United Arab Emirates.

Though India also exports basmati rice, wheat, and sugar to Bangladesh, the letter from Indian Embassy has raised the issue of frozen meat only.

The Indian embassy has urged the Ministry of Livestock to resolve the issue. 

According to the FE report, the All India Buffalo and Sheep Meat Exporters Association (AIMLEA) and Bangladesh Meat Importers and Traders Association (BMITA) have appealed to the Bangladesh government to lift the ban on the import of meat from India.

But the Bangladesh government, the FE report says, has stopped meat import from India to protect the interest of local cattle breeders and promote the domestic livestock sector. 

Bangladesh has so far been importing meat from as many as 14 countries, including India, to meet its demand for meat. However, there is no information if Bangladesh has stopped importing meat from other exporters also, apart from India. India has been the biggest source of meat for Bangladesh till a few months ago.

The newspaper report says that Bangladesh is now self-sufficient in meat products. Quoting figures from the Department of Livestock Services, the newspaper said that Bangladesh produced over 8.44 million tonnes of meat in 2020-21 against an annual demand of nearly 7.4 million tonnes. However, the Bangladesh government has not officially given any such reason behind the ban on the import of meat from India.

There is no official report about the ban on the import of meat from India from any of the Arab Muslim countries. A prominent meat exporter Sirajuddin Qureshi, when contacted, said that there was no official ban from any country on meat export from India. However, it was a different issue if some meat importers in some countries did not import meat from India.

AIMLEA secretary R K Goyal refused to speak on the issue. However, AIMLEA spokesperson Fauzan Alavi replied that raising of letter issue to the Bangladesh government was not appropriate because the Government of India had been pushing for the export of many other agricultural products including sugar, basmati rice, wheat, etc. to several countries. The Government of India, he said, recently took up at the World Trade Organization (WTO) the issue of the export of fish from India.

Meat is among the five top agri products exported from India. According to Alavi, annual revenue generated through meat export is roughly around the US $3.5 billion or Rs.28000 crores at the current exchange rate.

According to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) responsible for the promotion of the export of agricultural products, there are a total of 111 slaughterhouses all over India for the export of meat. They are all having licenses and are registered with APEDA, with most of them located in Western Uttar Pradesh. 

APEDA is an agency working under the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Indian Red Meat Industry Manual prepared by APEDA claims India exported 1.24 million tonnes of buffalo meat in 2018-19.

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