The rawhide business at the retail level across the country faces a major blow this year as well because of the low demand despite government's efforts.
Farmers and seasonal traders could not sell skins of the sacrificed animals at government set prices even though they were lowered by 30 percent than that of last year, mainly to create a demand at the field level.
Cowhides were sold at Tk 100 to Tk 150 per piece in different districts while goat skins were sold at Tk 5 to Tk 15.
In many places, most farmers and seasonal traders did not find any buyers to sell the rawhides. They are waiting for buyers in makeshift markets in different districts.
"Since I did not get any buyer, I took four pieces of rawhides, including three of my neighbour's, to a nearby temporary market. I could sell four pieces at Tk 400. I have seen many seasonal traders waiting to sell rawhides. The demand is too low," said Mohammad Shamim Hossain of Narsingdi.
In most cases, salt was not applied on the rawhides, he added.
"Besides, goat skins were sold at prices too low," he said.
Similar dismal situation was observed in Dhaka city also. Sellers did not get fair prices because of low demand from buyers. Cowhides were sold at Tk 200 to Tk 600 per piece in Dhaka.
"This year the prices are low too. But I hope we can gather the rawhides as the traders are buying at field level," said Aftab Khan, chairman of Bangladesh Hide and Skin Merchant Association.
Collection of rawhide is estimated to be nearly 30 percent less this year compared to last year because people sacrificed less animals during the pandemic and floods in different districts.
Aftab Khan also claimed that the price disaster did not happen across the board like last year. In some areas of different districts prices were low, but in many areas rawhides were sold at government set prices, he said.
This year's disaster happened because the banks did not give loan to traders before Eid, he said.
Shakawat Ullah, general secretary of Bangladesh Tanners Association, said the prices of lower-grade rawhides are less but high-grade rawhide prices are better.
"In many districts, prices are lower because of lower grade of rawhides," he claimed.
The tanners will begin purchasing of salt applied rawhides from the merchants and depot owners from next Saturday, one week into the Eid celebrations, as the merchants are bringing the items to Posta in Dhaka from different districts, Shakawat Ullah said.
He justified the government-fixed prices of rawhides, saying that the demand for leather and leather goods is very low worldwide because of the pandemic.
The prices were fixed by the government following discussion with merchants, tanners and tariff commission. Basically, the low demand from China has been acting as a major challenge for Bangladeshi leather and leather goods as China is the main export destination for these. The tariff war between the US and China has also affected the business of China.
Foreseeing the probable recurrence of last year's miserable state of rawhide business, the government lowered the prices last week and decided to allow export of rawhides to create demand in the local markets, so that the growers and small traders at the field level can get proper prices.
The government has fixed the prices of salt applied rawhides of cows and buffaloes at Tk 35 to Tk 40 per square ft inside Dhaka which is 29 percent lower than the prices of last year, said Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi.
The prices of these outside Dhaka were fixed between Tk 28 to Tk 32 per square ft which is also 20 percent lower than the prices of last year.
The prices of goat skin were set between Tk 13 and Tk 15 per square ft which is 27 percent less than last year and the prices of female goat skin were fixed between Tk 10 and Tk 12 per square ft which is 23 percent less than the prices of last year.
Last year nearly one crore pieces of rawhides worth Tk 100 crore were thrown away by farmers and seasonal traders because of low prices across the country