THE number of animals sacrificed this Eid-ul-Azha, which fell on August 1, was understandably lower compared with the figure of the preceding Eid-ul-Azha, because of the COVID-19 emergency that has slowed down the economy, draining people of their earnings and savings, and the ongoing flooding, categorised to have been the longest in 22 years, that has so far submerged 33 districts or a half of Bangladesh. What is worrying in all this is that rawhide prices that the government set at an eight-year low have prompted people and seasonal traders, who perform the main task of taking rawhide to wholesalers, to throw away the rawhide into rivers and in dumps and to bury them. This so happened because the people who sacrificed the animals hardly came by any trader to buy the rawhide and the traders hardly could sell the rawhide that they bought to wholesalers. While the situation left a significant number of rawhides dumped, it happened more in cases of goat rawhide as there were almost no buyers. An earlier government announcement that rawhide export would be allowed to keep prices reasonable on the domestic market has hardly worked, leading to a significant waste of the rawhide of sacrificial animals.
The government on July 29 set Tk 34–40 a square foot for Dhaka and Tk 28–30 a square foot for outlying areas in prices of cowhide and Tk 13–15 a square foot for Dhaka and Tk 10–12 a square foot for outlying areas in prices of goathide, The prices that the government set, the lowest in eight years, are also 29 per cent lower than the prices set for the past Eid-ul-Azha. Rawhides are reported to have been traded for throwaway prices at Posta, the largest hide wholesale market, in Dhaka. About 15,000 rawhides, mostly of goats, went waste near the market as wholesalers declined to buy them. Wholesalers seek to say that they were forced to offer lower prices because of cash constraints during the COVID-19 emergency. But they also failed to heed the government’s announcement on hide export to keep the market reasonable. Much of this happened riding on the losses that seasonal traders incurred during the past Eid-ul-Azha. Fears for failure to make up for the losses that they incurred last time held them back from getting into the seasonal trade this time. The failure that time also stemmed from the government’s setting low prices for rawhide.
All this having happened, it seems that the government’s crudely protecting the interest of hide and skin merchants, giving the COVID-19 emergency as an excuse, has been at the centre of all this. While hide and skin merchants have not hesitated to pass part of the blame, as New Age reported on Wednesday, onto the government saying that the relocation of tanneries to the Savar Leather Estate, which is yet to be readied for full-scale operation, has a share in the chaotic situation, the government set lower prices to advantage the merchants, which, in turn, bolstered the chaos that has continued for a few years. The government must learn from its mistakes and act wisely in future.
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