With only a night left before Eid-ul-Adha, farmers, many of whom came to the capital from remote areas of the country, are now fearing huge losses as they are failing to sell their sacrifical cattle at even breakeven prices.
Samad, a farmer from Chilmari of Kushtia, came to Gabtoli haat with 12 cows. He managed to sell only five until Tuesday evening.
Samad said he did not have customers even after setting a price that is Tk40,000 to Tk50,000 less than what he had invested in each cow.
Customers are preferring small and medium-sized cattle and they are bargaining for a price of Tk1.20 lakh against Tk2 lakh.
Samad said they have to pay Tk3,000 to Tk4,000 as the cost for the encloser per cow in the haat.
Moreover, one of his cows worth Tk2.5 lakh died, said Samad.
Visiting Gabtoli cattle market at 9pm, TBS reporter found traders sit idle in absence of customers. Even some of them were wandering around the market walking their cattle to attract buyers.
Mainly in the middle of the market, the majority of the cattle are seen left behind; most of whom are of big size.
Customers bargained for a 10 maunds cow for only Tk1.60 lakh, bemoaned Mamun who came to the market from Manikganj.
Mamun said he bought a cow, now weighing around 25 maunds, at Tk2.20 lakh a year ago.
After rearing the cow for one year, he brought it to the market.
He had high hopes for his prized cow, but the market had a different idea.
"The cow needs to be sold urgently," said Mamun, adding that he was now ready to sell the cattle even at Tk3 lakh.
"I have spent around Tk50,000 which includes enclosure, transport, and labour cost against each cattle," he said.
But the prices customers were negotiating for were far less than he expected.
Mamun blamed the Covid-19 pandemic for the price fall. Cows that were slaughtered every year on marriage and other programmes remained unsold causing a supply glut of big cattles in the Eid markets.
Grameen Agro brought 200 cows to the Gabtoli market but could not sell a single one till this evening.
Customers are asking for half the original price of each cow, said traders.
Many have stopped selling and decided to take back their cattle although they had to still pay Tk3 lakh as the pandal rent.
Abdul Al, a goat trader from Manikganj, also echoed the cattle traders complaining about the scarcity of customers.
"I bought a goat at Tk8,000 but customers now want to buy at Tk7,000," said Abdul admitting losses.
Another trader Rushai Mandol from Kushtia said he had brought 200 goats and sold 50, but counted losses of Tk10,000 in total.
The customers also admitted that the prices of goats were reasonable this year.
A customer said he bought a 17kg goat at Tk13,000.
Farmers in a pickle with big-sized cattle
Due to a lack of customers at Gabtoli Haat, farmers are in trouble with big cows worth Tk5 to Tk10 lakh.
In the last few years it was seen that many cows, including Big Boss and Kalo Manik, were sold for up to Tk10 lakh, said farmers.
In that hope, farmers reared big cows this year too with hundreds available in the market but there are no customers.
In the beginning, the buyers would negotiate, but now they are not doing that anymore, the farmers said.
The cow which was priced at Tk4 lakh two days ago is now priced at Tk2 lakh.
Md Ali Hossain brought Frisian breed cows weighing 27 maunds to Gabtoli market three days ago. He still could not sell the cattle.
Ali said the price of the cow was Tk6 lakh at home, but now customers are quoting Tk3 lakh only.
Online markets hurt Ctg farmers' profits
As people purchased their sacrificial animals online and from farms to avoid infection, many animal traders were left helpless in Chattogram cattle haats as they could not get the desired price and sell the animals.
As per the Animal Resources Department, the potential demand for sacrificial animals in Chattogram this year was 8.9 lakh. In contrast, local farmers have provided 7.56 lakh animals.
There was still a shortage of 52,000 animals.
But cows from North and South Bengal of the country flooded the Chattogram cattle markets making the supply four times more than the deficit.
As a result, the traders have become frustrated as they have not been able to get the desired price of the animals.
Mansur Ali came to Bibirhat Bazar in
Chattogram with 26 cattles from Natore. They were able to sell eight cattles till Tuesday.
While hundreds of cattle traders are eagerly waiting for buyers in the haats of Chattogram, about 2.5 lakh cows have been sold online in the port city alone.
Moreover, selling cattles at alternative places also affected the sale at different cattle haats.
Arif Chowdhury said he took over the lease of Bibirhat Cattle Market spending a huge amount of money. But due to the high number of seasonal sellers this year, sellers at the market released cows at a lower price. As a result he could not get much out of it.