bdnews24.com is reporting the following story, it is unedited.
Mon, Dec 27th, 2010 9:49 pm BdST
Dhaka, Dec 26 (bdnews24.com)—Bangladesh is taking initiatives to export snake venom, a high-priced product in the international market.
The fisheries and livestock ministry has called a meeting of experts on Jan 2 to launch a project to this end.
Fisheries minister Abdul Latif Biswas told bdnews24.com on Sunday that Bangladesh, like the neighbouring countries, will be farming snakes under the project to collect large quantities of venom for sale abroad.
He added that the project would also create employment opportunities for snake-charmers and other related poor people.
Ministry officials said that India, Thailand and China earn large amount of foreign currency through venom exports and that they had several government and private-run venom production facilities.
Momtaz Begum MP raised the issue in parliament recently and her proposal was supported by prime minister Sheikh Hasina and the minister.
The Export Promotion Bureau took steps in this regard in 2007.
Ministry officials added that the Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute (BLRI) had already submitted a report of their preliminary survey and review.
BLRI director general Shahidul Huq told bdnews24.com: "The report proposed nurturing a variety of snakes, although initially venom would be collected from a single variety. We also proposed that nurturing vipers would be profitable."
He went on to say that 500 snakes will have to be nurtured for a year to collect 100 grams of dry venom and pointed out that the ratio varies upon the species.
Minister Biswas said his ministry was already discussing ways to implement the project.
"Snake venom is used to manufacture various drugs and is sold in the international market at $200-$2000 per gram. Snake venom export could contribute greatly in the development of the economy," he added.
According to him, the neighbouring countries export around five tonnes of venom every year.
Biswas said there are several types of venomous snakes in the country.
"Snake-charmers have no idea about the extent of the financial value of venom. They capture snake to entertain people and earn money."
The ministry's deputy secretary Rafiqul Islam said the project's implementation was still in a preliminary stage and that zoology and toxicology experts of universities and medical colleges are working on it.
"We are discussing the advantages and disadvantages of its implementation with them."