The global production of soybean has declined significantly (Lowest in 30 years) due to the current situation of the pandemic
Soybean export is causing a crisis in the domestic market hurting the cattle feed industry as it is the major ingredient for poultry, fish and livestock feed.
Currently, the agriculture sector is the third-largest contributor to the economy.
Talking to Dhaka Tribune, the President of Feed Industries Association of Bangladesh (FIAB), Ihtesham B Shahjahan said: “The decision to export soybean meal and the increment of the price by Tk10-12 to Tk53-55 per kg has put the farmers into a deep crisis.”
“It is important to stop soybean meal exports to ensure food security and protect the country's farmers,” he added.
Current status of soybean
The global production of soybean has declined significantly (Lowest in 30 years) due to the current situation of the pandemic.
“The prices of soybean seeds have risen by about 40% in the last 5-6 months,” he added.
Moreover, many feed mills have closed due to the soybean crisis.
Of the 350 feed mills in Bangladesh, 50 have already closed down.
To tackle this, the government has given the opportunity to the oil companies to import soybean seeds at 0% import duty.
“The purpose is to enable people to purchase oil at a lower price and the soybean meal to be used in the domestic feed industry instead, to reduce imports of soybean meals from abroad,” he added.
Currently, the domestic feed millers can procure 70% - 80% of soybean meal locally and import the remaining 20% -30%.
“The imports however are also being severely hampered due to the congestion and container shortages at various ports recently,” he added.
The producers are also said to have created an artificial crisis in the market by reducing the supply of soybean meal.
Why export soybean meal right now?
However, it is surprising that soybean meal is being exported at a time like this when the country is now moving forward to ensure food security; this will hamper the country's efforts to achieve that.
The millers have requested the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Livestock to take a decision considering the situation in the country.
Moreover, the Department of Livestock and the Department of Fisheries have also requested the Ministry of Commerce to stop the export.
The feed industry is growing in the country as the number of farms is also increasing due to the easy availability of feed.
“The large portion of the demand for protein is being fulfilled by the farmed fish or meat. Bangladesh is gradually becoming the top producer of these in the world,” said Ihtisham.
“Prices of various elements in the feed industry have gone up by 34% to 35%, but we have increased the price of feed by 6-7% so that the farmers can survive,” he also said.
According to him, if exporting soybean meal creates an artificial crisis in the country-- the dairy, poultry and fish industries will be largely hampered.
“We expect the government to pay attention, as we are almost self-sufficient in feed production,” he added.
He also believes that the oil companies are providing the Ministry of Commerce with a misconception that the country produces more soybean meal than its demand.
“If there was enough production in the country, we wouldn’t have to import the 20%-30%,” he added.
However, the country has the capacity to produce more, but the actual production is below its optimum capacity.
“In this case, we are requesting the Ministry of Commerce to stop the export. The oil companies are more influential, so no one listens to us,” Ihtisham added.
RMG is the largest industry in the country. However, they brought workers from the villages to the cities or industrial areas.
“But dairy, poultry and fish are the only industries that have taken people back from urban to rural areas,” he added.
As many educated youths are getting involved in farming, a situation like this could easily discourage them, he added.
So, we requested the concerned ministry of the government to take initiative to stop the export of soybean meal.