Vol. 5 Num 295 Sat. March 26, 2005  

Buffalo horn products losing export prospect on smuggling

Despite huge demand for buffalo horn made buttons in South Korea, Bangladesh cannot avail the export opportunity fully due to rampant smuggling of raw buffalo horns.

Buffalo horn seems like trash at first look. Considering buffalo horns rubbish, the government also goes slack on stopping smuggling of the remains of buffaloes. But this ordinary thing can be a major item in export basket if the government takes steps to stop smuggling, sources said.

"We have already got order from the South Korean MK International Company Limited to export unlimited volume of half-finished button," said MA Chowdhury, managing partner of Trade Ties International.

Being convinced that Bangladesh has no mad cow disease, the Korean company has become interested to import buffalo horn made buttons from Bangladesh, he said.

"But we are struggling to gather sufficient buffalo horns due to rampant smuggling," he said.

"We earn Tk 10 crore a year by exporting half-finished button to South Korea. But it is possible to increase the export earnings to Tk 60 crore if there is no supply dearth of buffalo horns," he added.

He said even without any condition, the South Korean Company has expressed its interest to provide technical assistance to produce finished buttons here, which can further boost value added export.

"But probably we are going to miss this opportunity due to supply dearth of buffalo horns," Chowdhury observed. "We call upon the government to take immediate steps to stop the smuggling of the local buffalo horn and declare it a valuable asset," he said.

The local bone collectors are often reluctant to supply buffalo horns to the local market as they consider that smuggling these raw things into India is more profitable, he said.

A bone collector and trader of the city's Hazaribagh area said requesting anonymity that most of their bone supplies are booked in advance by Indian buyers.

Abdul Motalib, director of Department of Livestock Services (DLS), also acknowledged the smuggling of buffalo horn into India saying the government was not much concerned to curb the smuggling of buffalo horns thinking it trash.

"As our local entrepreneurs have started export of half-finished buttons by using buffalo horns, the government now must look into the problem," he said.

He also hoped smuggling of buffalo horns into India would naturally subside when the country will start producing and exporting different items made from buffalo horn in a large scale.