Rawhide prices plummet

Hides of animals slaughtered during Eid are being piled up at Mirpur 6 on 1 August
Hides of animals slaughtered during Eid are being piled up at Mirpur 6 on 1 AugustAbdus Salam

Despite the government fixing rawhide prices and allowing export before the Eid, a plummet in the price of rawhide could not be prevented. Cowhide in the city, depending on size, is being sold for Tk 150 to Tk 600. Goat skin is selling at Tk 2 to Tk 10.

This rock bottom price of skins was noted during a visit on Saturday afternoon to the Jigatola tannery area and the Posta warehouses. The skins of the sacrificial animals everywhere are being sold well below the fixed prices, even though the prices had been reduced by 20 to 29 percent less than last year.

Stockists and tannery owners have said there will be 30 to 35 percent less hides coming in compared to last time and so there is a high demand. But they are using old excuses for the poor prices despite the high demand.

The commerce ministry met with tannery industry owners last week and determined the price of hides of the Eid sacrificial animals.

In Dhaka, the price of salt-treated cowhide has been fixed at Tk 35 to Tk 40 per sq ft. Outside Dhaka it has been determined at Tk 28 to Tk 32 per sq ft. Countrywide the price of goat hide has been fixed at Tk 13 to Tk 15 per sq ft, down from last year’s prices of Tk18 to Tk 20 per sq ft.

Also, in order to prevent a fall in prices, the government from 29 July allowed the export of raw and wet-blue hide.

In the afternoon at Old Dhaka’s Posta, lines of pickup vans and trucks had arrived at the qurbani (sacrificial) animal rawhide warehouses. The stockists were bargaining and buying the skins. Workers were unloading the hides, taking these inside and treating the skins with salt for preservation.

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Shafiqur Rahman was sitting by the roadside at Posta, buying skins. He said he had bought large cow hides for Tk 500 to Tk 600 and the hides of medium sized cows for Tk 300 to Tk 350. He bought four pieces of goat skin for Tk 10. He said the prices were “more or less low.”

Haji Sher Mohammed had collected cowhide from various areas and was taking these by pickup to Posta. He said he had bought the hide of large cows for Tk 400 to Tk 600 and of small cows for Tk 150 to Tk 250.

General secretary of Bangladesh Tanners Association Sakhawat Ullah said that the tannery owners had been facing financial crisis ever since the tanneries were shifted from Hazaribagh to Savar. That was why many of them had been unable to pay their dues owned to the stockists.

Many seasonal traders last time lost their investment in skins and so this time the number of traders was relatively low. Md Shahid, a seasonal trader in rawhide, had bought around a dozen or so cowhides from Mohammedpur and was taking them to Posta by rickshaw van. He said he had bought the hides for Tk 400 to Tk 600, depending on the size. He did not sell these at Kalabagan or Jigatola as the traders there were offering hardly more than the purchase price. It couldn’t be known whether he eventually managed to make a profit.

Commission agents Md Nayan and Tajuddin at the Abdul Majed warehouse in Posta said it had been apprehended that there would be much less animals slaughtered this Eid due to coronavirus, but in actuality it was probably only 5 percent less than last time in Dhaka.

The size of a large cowhide is 30 to 40 sq ft on average, of a medium cow it is around 25 to 30 sq ft and or a small cow, 16 to 20 sq ft. According to the prices determined by the government, the minimum prices of these should be Tk 1500, Tk 1000 and Tk 600 respectively. Even if the costs of processing, workers’ wages and the profits of stockists are not taken into account, the hides were not sold at anywhere near the fixed price.

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President of the Bangladesh Hide and Skin Merchants Association, Aftab Khan, speaking to Prothom Alo about the reason behind the low prices, said the prices at which the rawhide is being sold is correct because it takes Tk 8 to process each sq ft of hide. And the stockists are facing a capital crisis. Most of the tannery owners have not paid the stockists their dues.

Bangladesh Tanners Association general secretary Sakhawat Ullah told Prothom Alo that this time the skins were mostly of small animal. Then there was the cost of salt. Some of the hide would be discarded in the cutting. And the traders were apprehensive of what price they would receive eventually.

About money owed to the stockists, Sakhawat Ullah said that the tannery owners had been facing financial crisis ever since the tanneries were shifted from Hazaribagh to Savar. That was why many of them had been unable to pay their dues owned to the stockists.

During last Eid-ul-Azha, at makeshift markets that had popped up around the capital city, the skin of small cows had sold at Tk 300 to Tk 400, of mid-sized cows, Tk 500-600 and or large cows, Tk 1000. Prices fell further at night. Skins were not sold for more that Tk 250 to Tk 300. The next day the traders could hardly sell skins for even Tk 150 to Tk 200. Outside Dhaka the prices fell so low that many simply threw these away or buried the hides. The matter gave rise to much criticism and controversy.