Government fixed rates have eluded rawhide traders this Eid-ul-Azha too as seasonal traders said they sold rawhides to merchants at almost the same prices they had bought those at – even at lower rates in some places.
"Why do rawhide rates continue plummeting when the prices of everything keep soaring?" said Mohammad Mintu near the Dhaka City College intersection in the capital after selling the rawhide of his Tk4 lakh cow at only Tk850.
He said the price of such cowhide was Tk2,000 even ten years ago.
At the intersection on Eid day, merchants and tannery owners were buying rawhides from seasonal traders like Mintu.
"We bought cowhides from people at Tk500-Tk800 per piece. But the merchants offered us the same. The throwaway rates hurt our business this year too," Mohammad Swapan, a seasonal trader, told The Business Standard.
According to the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, 99.50 lakh cattle were sacrificed on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha this year.
This year, the government fixed salted cowhide at Tk47-52 per square foot in Dhaka, and Tk40-44 outside the capital. Besides, the price of goat hide was set at Tk18-20 per square foot across the country.
A large cowhide is around 35-40 sq-ft, a medium one is 25-30 sq-ft and a small one is 16-20 sq-ft, according to traders. As per the government rate, the rawhide of a big cow was supposed to be Tk16,000-Tk18,000, medium cow Tk1,175-Tk1,300 and small cow Tk940-Tk1,040.
In Dhaka's leather hub Posta, big cowhide was at Tk800 and small at Tk200 on Monday. But there were no buyers for rawhide of goat or lamb.
However, madrasas and orphanages – who get the rawhides as a donation from people – said they were able to sell the animal skins at better prices this year. Cowhides did not even reach Tk500 last year.
In 2019, rawhide sales centring Eid faced the record-low as small traders in many districts threw away the skins worth at least Tk100 crore.
Bangladesh Hide and Skin Merchants Association President Aftab Khan said merchants in Dhaka's Posta have bought around 1.5 lakh pieces of rawhide this year.
About the low prices offered to seasonal traders, he said, "Small traders often buy rawhides at higher prices from primary sources due to a lack of experience. But we collect those considering several costs such as salt, labour and skin quality."
Aftab Khan said 20 tanneries used to buy goat hides, but only two are buying this year. He said 50% of the goat hides in Dhaka got wasted this Eid due to the sluggish demand.
Prices even lower outside Dhaka
Sagirul Islam, a seasonal rawhide trader at Dinajpur's Hilli area, said, "We are having to sell rawhides at Tk350 per piece though we bought at Tk400 apiece."
They will lose capital, let alone making profits, he also said.
Hossain Ali, who came to North Bengal's largest animal skin warehouse in Ramnagar area of Dinajpur town, said he had to sell rawhides at a loss of Tk50 per piece.
Basudev Biswas, who brought animal skins to Rajarhat in Jashore, said, "I have sold 200 pieces of cow skins but at a loss of Tk100 per piece."
He will suffer a loss of Tk50,000, he noted.
On the other hand, Mohammad Abul Bashar, president of a rawhide traders' co-operative society at Harindhara Bazar near the Savar tannery estate, told TBS that about 8 lakh sacrificial animal skins have been collected on the Eid day.
"We have 72 rawhide warehouses here [Hemayetpur]. We paid Tk600-Tk1,100 for each cow skin," he also said.
Meanwhile, rawhides were sold at Tk400 to Tk700 in Chattogram. Most of the cattle skins bought here were from mosques and madrasas.
Muslim Uddin, president of the Greater Chattogram Raw Leather Storekeepers, said, "In the first two days, 1.5 lakh pieces of rawhides were collected from the Chattogram metropolitan area."
In all, they have procured about 4 lakh pieces of skins in Chattogram, he noted.
In the meantime, Bangladesh Tanners Association Chairman Md Shahin Ahmed told TBS that about 4.5 lakh pieces of rawhides have so far entered the tannery estate.
"We will start collecting salted skins bought by merchants from seasonal traders after a week," he said.
According to the Export Promotion Bureau, in FY2022, exports of leather and leather goods surpassed the yearly target by 20.7%.
[The Business Standard Chattogram, Hili, Dinajpur, Jashore and Savar correspondents contributed to the report.]