Over 10,000 cattle stranded in Muse as China tightens border security amid COVID-19

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The Department of Livestock Breeding and Veterinary has been endeavouring to provide healthcare services to over 10,000 heads of cattle remained struck in Muse, and 3,000 of them are under the care of the department.. Photo : Salai Vanro Than

With China stepping up border control as precautionary measures for the COVID-19, trade has ground to a halt, and over 10,000 cattle have been stranded in Muse town.
The domestic companies are sending cattle in line with Standard Operating Procedure to China through the Muse border.
“Before the COVID-19, cattle were highly demanded. During the early outbreak of coronavirus, about ten traders from China entered Myanmar to purchase over 1,000 heads of cattle per day. The resurgences of COVID-19 in Myanmar prompted China to tighten its border areas with Myanmar. Consequently, it was one month that cattle trading was halted. We are not sure when the cattle trading will go back to normal,” Ko Kyi Khin, a cattle trader, explained the reasons for trade suspension.
While cattle exports are legal in Myanmar, livestock trade is still not permitted by China. Therefore, Myanmar traders cannot directly send the cattle to China market, so they have to wait for China traders.
“The traders are facing many hardships as it is difficult to take care of the cattle in yards during the rainy season. We can’t do anything else but only wait. As a result, traders have been burdened by labour wages, cost of feedstuff, healthcare services, and other general costs. It costs K3,000-4,000 per day to feed one cow, incurring loses,” U Sai Tun, a trader, stressed.
Usually, a large cow is valued at over K1.8-2.2 million depending on size. Still, the suspension of trade often leads to Chinese traders resorting to price manipulation and offering a lower price.
“Chinese traders are also worried about mandatory quarantine when they enter Myanmar. Another reason is the surging COVID-19 new cases in Myanmar,” said Ko Kyi Khin, a cattle trader.
The Department of Livestock Breeding and Veterinary has been endeavouring to provide healthcare services to over 10,000 heads of cattle remained stuck in Muse, and 3,000 of them are under the care of the department. It is also planning for the remaining cattle.
Myanmar’s exports of livestock and animal products between 1 October and 18 September in the current financial year 2019-2020 touched a low of US$105.48 million, a sharp drop of $254.066 million compared with the corresponding period of the 2018-2019FY when China suspended livestock trading.
In the previous budget year, animal products exports were registered at $359.3 million.
Animal products exports are solely driven by the private sector this year.
Myanmar has held a series of negotiations with China at the Joint Border Trade Cooperation and Coordinating Committee (JBTCC) meetings on legal exports of cattle along with cross-border control of communicable diseases.
Myanmar, which allowed livestock trading in late 2017, is now exploring new export markets for cattle.
At present, to prevent from animal disease, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation issued a notification on 11 March 2020 that the cattle are subject to particular goods and procedures for movement of the cattle in the regions and states were mentioned, posing difficulties to those livestock farmers working on a manageable scale.
The health certificate (AHD/PC-3) issued by the head of the related Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department in the townships, districts and regions or states are necessary for the transport of the cattle within the country.
If the traders fail to comply with the notification, they will face legal action under the Special Goods Tax Law.
At present, the COVID-19 consequences pose transportation difficulties, and it is hard to seek for approval from the related Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department.
As a result of this, the drastic plunge of live cattle export forced some breeders to turn to meat market as they are facing financial hardships during the coronavirus pandemic. The meat price is also dropping, said a trader.
The country exports cattle that are above five years old, along with vaccination certificates, health certificates, and farming registration certificates. According to the 2018 cattle census, there are 11.5 million heads of cattle in the country.
Between the 2017-2018FY and the month of October in the current FY, over 460,000 heads of cattle, with an estimated value of over $581 million, have been exported to China through Muse, according to trade figures.
The authorities have issued cattle export licences to more than 300 companies in the Magway region. There are around 5,000 companies holding cattle export licences across the country.—Salai Vanro Than/ Htet Myat (Translated by Ei Myat Mon)

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