Pink buffalo farming in Bangladesh

Shykh Seraj chats with Lutfar Rahman Swapan at his cattle farm in Dashergaon village in the Bandar upazila of Narayanganj. Photo: Hridoye Mati O Manush


Shykh Seraj chats with Lutfar Rahman Swapan at his cattle farm in Dashergaon village in the Bandar upazila of Narayanganj. Photo: Hridoye Mati O Manush

Many factories in all the big sheds in Dashergaon village in the upazila Bandar of Narayanganj, and between these an enterprising young man, Lutfar Rahman Swapan, set up a factory, SS Cattle Farm, with different types of dreams. I had the opportunity to visit his huge cattle farm a week before Eid-ul-Azha this year and wrote about it on The Daily Star. Swapan had been abroad for a long time. After studying in Europe, he also worked there; but his zeal was to come back to his homeland and do something very special. He started his farming initiative in 2006. He built a huge breeding farm of different breeds and managed to make a living adopting organic cattle breeding.

In addition to the 360 ​​local and foreign bulls, the eight bigha farm (approximately 3.2 acres) also has 25 dairy cows, buffaloes, goats and garols (a variety of sheep). Swapan said that raising a garol is the most profitable because it is inexpensive. He therefore thinks of increasing the number of garol on his farm. He also owns several goats, gayal (unique bovine species) and bhutti cow. Apart from these, there are some high priced cows known as the Nepalese, Australian, Frisian and Brahmins breeds. Swapan’s collection includes buffaloes of different breeds, ranging from Nili-Ravi to Murah, Zafarabadi, Kundi and even a herd of a special pink breed. The pink variety of buffalo is also known as albino or white buffalo around the world. Many say it is an American breed. According to Native Americans, the first white buffalo was seen in 1833. Researchers claim that usually one in 10 million white buffalo is born. There is still disagreement as to whether this white buffalo’s birth process is due to albinism or leucism. Whatever the differences, Swapan claims the 12 pink buffaloes on his farm are American bred. He first saw this breed on a trip to Arizona in the United States three years ago. Then he returned to the countryside to find out how to raise this buffalo on his farm. He collected 12 pink buffaloes from different farms in Bangladesh and India. From a hobby, Swapan now sees business prospects in this colorful buffalo. And he took the initiative to capitalize on the potential for increasing numbers through breeding.

Bison are very important domestic animals in our livestock industry. Buffaloes are mainly reared in open spaces along the coastal areas of the country. Leaving buffaloes on pastures or river banks is an old tradition and it is called raising buffaloes in a bathan (pasture). There are herds of buffalo in many coastal districts like Bhola, Satkhira, Khulna, Bagerhat, Barguna, Barishal, Chandpur, Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, Feni, Gopalganj, Jhalakathi, Laxmipur, Narail, Noakhali, Pakjpur, Shariatpur and Patuakhaliro. Buffaloes are also bred in Sirajganj, Bogura, Tangail and Jamalpur. In addition, there is a tradition of keeping buffaloes in the farmer’s house all over the country. But, in the truest sense of the word, there is no such research, development or activity on the buffalo.

I remember in 1990-91 I went to a remote area of ​​Bhola to film the TV show ‘Mati O Manush’ (Soil & People) for Bangladesh Television. There, a young man named Sirajul Islam raised more than 500 buffaloes. They lived in a high hut on the land of the chariots. These “tong-ghars” were like bamboo forts. It was raining that day. The owner of this herd of buffaloes was Sirajul who gave different names to each of the buffaloes in his bathan. Some of them were called Bobita, Shabana, Jasim, then the main actors of cinema of our country. A buffalo was named Golapi (pink) because it was slightly pink in color. Whenever Sirajul called them with their names, they responded accordingly! I still can’t get over this wonderful bondage event.

Lal Teer Livestock Limited, a leading private agribusiness company in our country, and the Beijing Genome Institute in China jointly unveiled the buffalo genome sequence. Fourteen scientists conducted the study. I spoke to Abdul Awal Mintoo, the chairman of Lal Teer Livestock Limited. Mintoo said the cost of raising buffaloes has come down to less than half the cost of raising cows. Buffaloes can play a unique role in meeting the demand for meat and milk. However, the Livestock Research Institute (BLRI) has a five-year project on multifaceted research, including the development of the buffalo breed. The Buffalo Development Project will end in 2023. I spoke about the project activities with BLRI’s Managing Director, Md Abdul Jalil, and he said that they are also working to invent a hybrid breed of buffalo.

Dear readers, I said at the beginning that entrepreneurs in our country are very interested in undertaking any new project, looking at its business prospects and Swapan farm shows great hope. He had the dream of building a world class farm. I hope he will do even better in the future. He hopes to go far with new initiatives and I admire his vision. However, research has an important role to play in encouraging these entrepreneurs. Thanks to this, we were able to head for a great opportunity with the white buffalo. I hope that the initiatives led by the public and private sectors will strengthen the development of buffalo breeds in the country. May there be great achievements in this livestock sector. I consider that the contribution of the buffalo to meet the demand for our meat and our dairy products will be prosperous.

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