Bangladesh Bank directed the country's banks to provide agricultural loans to farmers for rearing buffalo on priority basis. Department of Agriculture Loan (DAL) of the central bank issued a circular on January 5 about this matter.
"In this regard, the banks can take advice or recommendations from the officials of the district or upazila administration," the circular added. It said the livestock sector has been playing a vital role in the economy. In the government's policy on livestock, it has been directed to provide loans to buffalo rearing programmes alongside other animals rearing like cattle, goat and sheep.
Buffalo production can help meet the demand for protein and it has important role in rural transportation. There is a huge potential for buffalo production and rearing in char and haor areas due to conventional environment and custom, said the central bank circular. Despite this potential, the agriculture credit disbursement in this sub-sector is insignificant. So, banks are asked to take necessary steps to distribute more agriculture credit to farmers for buffalo rearing, said the circular.
According to 2011 statistics of Department of Livestock Services (DLS) of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, the country has total 1.26 million buffalo heads.
The government had taken up a project in 2011 to boost meat and milk productions in the country by developing crossbreed buffalo in suitable areas, including the coastal belt. The five-year programme was designed to develop a new type of buffalo population, which will be an outcome of cross between superior breed and native buffalo.
The project had targeted to increase the annual milk production to 2.33 lakh tonnes from current 1.80 lakh tonnes. The meat production will subsequently increase to 26,000 tonnes from 18,000. The country's buffalo population, mostly in coastal belt and low-laying areas, is considered as the second largest source of milk and meat after cattle, according to UNB. -Mithun