Monday, September 21, 2020 | ePaper

Anarchy again over rawhide trade

Seasonal traders suffer huge losses as skin prices hit rock bottom

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Workers are seen carrying rawhides for preservation from a street at Posta in Old Dhaka. This snap was taken on Eid day.



Rawhide prices have hit rock bottom again during the Eid-ul-Azha owing to syndication by unscrupulous traders and falling demands for leather and leather goods in the international markets.
The drastic fall in rawhide prices forced seasonal traders in different districts, including, Chattogram and Rajshahi, to throw away thousands of pieces of rawhide of cows, goats and buffaloes sacrificed during Eid-ul-Azha.
Harunur Rashid, a seasonal trader from Narsingdi, brought 1,100 pieces of raw cow hides to Dhaka's Posta for sale on Saturday evening. He bet high hope to make good profit because the leather collection this time was less than past years. But the scenario was even worse, as hide merchants were quoting rawhide prices about 20-30 per cent lower than that of the last year.
"I had collected cowhides for Tk 500-Tk 800. But the Posta traders were offering the same leather price from Tk 150 to Tk 300 and they did not want to pay any price for goatskin. Even if it is given, it is Tk 5 to Tk 10," said Rashid, adding," As the skin starts to deteriorate in the extreme heat, I had no alternative but sold those at throwaway prices."
Even many seasonal traders who came to the Posta thrown away rawhides on the road due to collapse in their prices. 
The traders also claimed that the tannery owners are asking for three to four times less than the price fixed by the government.
Earlier the government set the salt-treated cowhide at Tk 35 to Tk 40 per sq ft for
Dhaka and at Tk 28 to Tk 32 per sq ft for rest of the country.  The price of goat hide was set at Tk 13 to Tk 15 per sq ft.
A number of seasonal traders said cowhide was sold between Tk 150 to Tk 600 (depending   on size) in the capital and goatskin was sold between Tk 2 and Tk 10.
The skin of a large cow is 35-40 square feet on average, while the skin of a medium size cow is 25-30 square feet. The skin of a small cow is 15-20 square feet.
In that case, according to the price fixed by the government, the price of large cow skin should be Tk 1,200 to Tk 1,600. The price of medium cow skin is Tk 800 to Tk 1,100 and the price of small cow skin should be Tk 500 to Tk 600.
But the leather merchants were offering Tk 200 to Tk 400 for a cowhide (depending on the size) that is supposed to be Tk 800 to Tk 1,000 as per the price fixed by the government.
"It is nothing but an absolute price manipulation by hide merchants and tanners that forced us to incur heavy losses," a seasonal trader told The New Nation asking not to be named.    
Nurus Safa, a seasonal trader, collected 276 pieces of cowhide from three Madrasas of Rangunia and bought those to the Aturar Depot, the wholesale hide market in Chattogram, on Saturday.
He waited there for at least 20 hours but none of the leather merchants procured his rawhides. Finally, he left the hides on the road.
"I collected cowhides from village Madrasas with a hope to make some profit. But I have lost my investment in skins this time as I found no buyer. It made me pauper, and now I have no money to go back home," said Nurus Safa with a note of frustration.
Seasonal traders thrown away at least 22,000 pieces of rawhides in Chattogram city due to low rate of hide and skins, reports our Local Correspondent.
In Rajshahi, seasonal traders have also thrown rawhides of sacrificial animals into the Padma River after failing to get fair prices.
Around 1,500 goat hides were dumped into the river near I-dam at Bulanpur in the district around noon on Sunday.
A Facebook user named Touhid Ferdous Tanmoy posted a picture and a video of rawhides being dumped into the river.
"Seasonal traders in Rajshahi are dumping rawhides into the river for not getting fair prices. In this way, our country's resources are going to be wasted and river water is also getting contaminated," he wrote in his Facebook post.
Commenting on the issue, Ghulam Rahman, President of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) said, a syndicate by unscrupulous tanners and hide merchants might be behind the drastic fall of rawhide prices.
"The matter should be investigated thoroughly and punishment should be handed to the dishonest businessmen," he added.
But denying the allegation tannery owners said prices of rawhides fell compared with that of last year due to lack of demands in the international market.
They also claimed that coronavirus had led to lower orders for leather goods this year and a lot of rawhides remained piled up in their godowns due to the suspension of exports. That is why they do not want to pay more.
Shahin   Ahmed, President of the   Bangladesh   Tanners   Association   (BTA), said   prices   of rawhides are showing a "depressing   trend" for the last few years owing   to the reduced demand of leather products in developed countries. "Even the local leather industry is facing great competition from Chinese syenthic products which have taken over international markets. In this situation, how much the traders will get the benefit from the export of wet- blue leather is a big question," he said.
In order to prevent a fall in rawhide prices, the government on 29 July allowed the export of raw and wet-blue hide.
 "The plunging prices of rawhides are a national loss. The country's image will suffer due to the incident of rawhides getting damaged. The tanners are responsible for the plummeting prices of rawhides. They did not pay the arrears of hide merchants and for this reason they could not purchase rawhides at reasonable prices," Dr Khondoker Golam Moazzem, Research Director at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) told the New Nation
When asked, Sakhawat Ullah, General Secretary of BTA, claimed that the tannery owners had been facing financial crisis since the tanneries were shifted from Hazaribagh to Savar. That was why many of them had been unable to pay dues of the leather merchants.
"We estimate that 75 lakh pieces of rawhides may be collected this time," he added.
Export of leather and leather goods from Bangladesh fetched $797.6 million in FY 20, down   by 21.79 per cent from $1.01 billion in FY19.
"When the local leather industry confronts with existing challenges such as non-compliance around environmental issues, the Covid-19 pandemic worsens its owes further. The global buyers held up and cancelled work orders due to the pandemic and it may cause a drastic fall in leather and leather goods exports from the country in the upcoming months," said Sakhawat Ullah.

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