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This holiday season in Bangladesh: cows, goats and buffaloes delivered to your door

Written by Saif Hasnat and Mujib Mashal

Consider it as Amazon, however for cows, goats and sheep. And this vacation season, the gross sales are skyrocketing.

Yearly, farmers in Bangladesh, house to about 10% of the world’s Muslim inhabitants, rear thousands and thousands of animals for sacrifice through the competition of Eid al-Adha, the commemoration of a sacrifice made by the prophet Abraham. Households crowd markets to pick the prime animals for his or her celebrations.

However this yr, amid a surge in coronavirus infections throughout the nation, consumers and sellers have more and more shifted that interplay on-line.

Farmers had nervous that an estimated 12 million animals on the market, value billions of {dollars}, can be affected after the federal government introduced a pandemic lockdown within the weeks earlier than the competition.

On the final minute, the federal government eased restrictions to permit for vacation purchasing to inject some life into the financial system, a lot to the protest of well being specialists who stated crowded cattle markets may change into an infection scorching spots. In an effort to cut back among the crowds, officers set an bold goal: promote 25% of the sacrificial cattle on-line in digital cattle markets.

A dealer with certainly one of his cows on the Gabtoli Cattle market in Dhaka, Bangladesh, July 20, 2021. (Fabeha Monir/The New York Occasions)

Because the push started this month, all sizes of farms, native cooperatives, and even particular person villagers have been importing their flocks. A few of the extra skilled on-line distributors have had a leg up — posting well-lit pictures of their cattle with slick tags, and even publishing the vaccination standing of the animal.

For others, tech-savvy intermediaries have stepped in to assist with {photograph} and video providers in return for a fee. One platform even has a piece of webcam footage the place potential consumers can watch the animals dwell.

Others provided a extra private contact.

“If you need, you’ll be able to watch the cows instantly from the farmer’s home by video name,” wrote one vendor, promoting a cow weighing 670 kilos with an 84-inch chest.

By the top of Monday, two days earlier than the competition in Bangladesh, practically 350,000 animals had been offered by a whole lot of on-line retailers and platforms, in response to the federal government’s livestock division. That was far wanting the goal, however a rise of at the very least 10 instances the net gross sales estimated in native news media for final yr.

Cows and buffaloes had been the decide, adopted by goats and sheep.

Rafiqul Ranju, who runs a small transportation service within the infamously congested capital, Dhaka, stated, “The primary drawback is the heavy site visitors across the metropolis areas — it has been very tough to ship the animals on time.”

A significant elevate for on-line gross sales got here when a number of non-public and authorities entities partnered to introduce a service known as Digital Haat this month, bringing greater than 50 retailers with entry to just about 500 cattle markets onto one web site. The platform is banking on the rise of digital funds in Bangladesh to bolster its efforts.

Digital Haat goals to be an equalizer, internet hosting skilled distributors in addition to smaller cooperatives and farms.

Kamrun Nahar, a 36-year-old from Gaibandha, a small city north of Dhaka, stated she had offered two cows by one of many retailers listed on Digital Haat.

“I believe these on-line platforms gave us a terrific alternative to promote animals so simply — we now don’t have to go to the market, don’t want to rent a automobile or run after individuals to handle the animals,” Nahar stated. “With out further prices, we now can promote proper from house.”

The acquisition of sacrificial animals for Eid al-Adha has historically been a household affair, with a number of members going collectively to the market to haggle, provide their opinions and attempt to keep away from being ripped off. The involvement of presidency companies and established commerce associations within the on-line platforms appears to have eased some — however not all — of the reservations about not conducting negotiations in particular person.

Sheikh Abdus Sobhan, a resident of northeastern Dhaka who stated he was in his late 50s, logged on to Digital Haat on Sunday, after his night prayer. He chosen a cow and known as the service provider to finalize the deal. However he was advised the animal was already offered. The retailers despatched him two different out there cows on-line, which Sobhan checked and authorized.

“After confirming the reserving, they despatched their representatives round midnight to get the money advance,” Sobhan stated on Tuesday. “They lastly delivered the cows this morning.”

His greatest concern, he famous, was whether or not they would really ship the cows marketed.

“However by the grace of God,” he stated, “we acquired the identical cow that we had seen on the web site.”

This text initially appeared in The New York Occasions.

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