Govt support needed for crocodile farming (The New Nation (Bangladesh))

Despite a huge demand for crocodile skins, meat and bones in Europe, America and other developed countries, Bangladeshi crocodile breeding business has not yet got any support from the government.

The business partners of crocodile farm alleged that the customs authorities held the export order of 430 raw croc skin last year imposing the goatskin export rules. However, the invoice was sent after hard negotiation through the Commerce Ministry, they added. “They were supposed to get 12 per cent cash incentive on the export order according to law, but they did not get any.

This is due to the lack of coordination among commerce, environment and finance ministries, Rajib Shome, Managing Director of Reptiles Farm Ltd (RFL) told The New Nation on Friday. Inter-ministry coordination and modernization of law are needed to promote reptile business, he opined. In 2010, the RFL first got export order of 67 frozen crocodile from Hydelburge University of Germany. Afterwards, it exported 430 crocodile skins to Japan in 2014 and 500 skins were waiting to export within December 2016.

Different countries, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain, have shown keen interestin importing croc skins from their farm, said Rajib. He hoped that his farm would be able to export 500 croc skins by next two to three years. The farm is now aiming to export over 5, 000 pieces of crocodiles skin annually and create a base for earning upto $5 million by 2020.

The charcoal made from crocodile bones is indispensable to the global perfume industry, informed Rajib, adding that there is a huge demand of crocodile meat soup to the foreigners. Crocodiles are being commercially farmed in 40 countries, including China, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

When the Reptile Farm Ltd went into operation, they invited an Australian expert to train the local staff for eight months. Now the farm is totally run by local people but the two veterinary experts are invited in every month from Thailand. “Against demand for crocodile eggs in some hotels in the country, we have taken initiative to sell the croc eggs commercially, he said. Apart from selling croc eggs, he said his farm has also taken steps to sell baby crocodiles to amusement parks in the country.

RFL Consultant Prof Abdur Razzaq said crocodile farming has created great enthusiasm in Bhaluka upazila of Mymensingh district. The farm has now turned into a recreation spot for the visitors. In 2004, Reptiles Farm Ltd (RFL), the first firm in the country, started its commercial raising of crocodile at Hatiber village in Uthura union under the upazilas. Meanwhile, the RFL has bought 25 acres of land.

It also dug 14 ponds in four acres where crocodiles have been kept. The ponds have been dug in three steps with curving banks for easy and natural movement of the crocodiles. RFL imported 85 crocodile breeders from Malaysia at the beginning. Since 2007, the farm has bred nearly 1250 crocodiles. “Usually it takes 8-10 years to be adult of a baby crocodile and an adult one lays 50 eggs on an average in a year. The adult creates commercial value within three years, said Veterinary Doctor Abu Syed Mohammad Arif, Manager of RFL.

He added that climate and environment of Bangladesh is very much suitable for crocodile farming. Generally it takes at least six years to start export commercially. Export price of “A” category skin of a crocodile at $800-100, he said. Notable that another farm namely Akij Wild Life Farm Limited has started crocodile breeding business in Bandarban district in 2010.