Seasonal rawhide traders count ‘losses’
Publication Date: 16 September, 2016
Media: The Independent
Original URL : Seasonal rawhide traders count ‘losses’
E-paper URL: Seasonal rawhide traders count ‘losses’
Seasonal rawhide traders in Chittagong have claimed to have suffered great losses this Eid-ul-Azha as they bought the hides for much higher prices than that prescribed by the Bangladesh Tanners’ Association (BTA) and had to sell those for much lower prices. Increased processing costs and lack of experience in the business were partly to blame for the situation.
The BTA’s declaration that rawhides have to be processed with salt within five hours frightened the seasonal businessmen and led them to sell the rawhides at a lower price, they claimed.
It has been a long-standing tradition in Chittagong that influential youths and small businessmen collect the rawhides of sacrificial animals from their areas and sell those to the rawhide warehouses in Chittagong.
However, citing increasing processing costs and a higher price of salt, the warehouses this year did not buy the hides from the seasonal businessmen for the high prices charged by the latter.
The seasonal traders alleged that the warehouses spread panic that rawhides have to be processed with salt within five hours; otherwise, it would rot.
On September 8, after holding a meeting with commerce minister Tofail Ahmed, the Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather Goods and Footwear Exporters’ Association, the BTA, and the Bangladesh Hides and Skin Merchants’ Association fixed the prices of unprocessed rawhide at Tk 50 per square feet for Dhaka and Tk 40 for the rest of the country during Eid-ul-Azha.
Owing to their lack of experience, the seasonal businessmen apparently collected rawhides for higher prices. But the warehouses refused to pay them such high prices, pointing out that the processing charges have gone up considerably.
The Chittagong Rawhide Warehouse Traders’ Cooperative Association Ltd (CRWTCAL) told The Independent that a sack of salt (70kg) they bought at Tk 400–450 last year costs Tk 1,400–1,600 this year.
Sources claimed that the warehouses advised the seasonal traders to buy rawhide for Tk 22–25 per square feet, but the latter did not follow the advice. Rawhide warehouse traders alleged that due to a certain syndicate of salt businessmen, an artificial salt crisis was created on the eve of Eid and the price of salt went up.
“Usually, the processing cost of a rawhide is Tk 150–200, but this year it was over Tk. 300–350 due to the high salt prices. We paid the seasonal traders good prices for their hide from 10am to 10pm. Those who came after 10pm were likely to have rotten hides as rawhide needs to be processed within 12 hours. They had to sell it for a lower price,” said Jahangir Alam, managing partner of Masers AI Leather of Hamjarbag in Chittagong.
Manjur Alam, a seasonal businessman of Halishahar, alleged that he had collected 40 cowhides for Tk 1,200 each, but had to sell those for Tk 600 per piece due to the “syndicate of warehouse owners”.
Wasim of Chowkbazar and Ershad of Bakalia came up with the same allegations. They claimed they had to sell their cowhides at Tk 400–600 each, after buying those at Tk 900–1,500.
Abdul Kader, vice-president of CRWTCAL, rubbished the allegation. “We bought the hides for Tk 900–1,200 per piece. Those who had stored their rawhide for a higher profit were the losers. Rawhide starts rotting after 10 to 12 hours. The seasonal businessmen suffered losses due to their ignorance.” Abdul Hannan, vice-president of the Chittagong Rawhide Shramik Association, told The Independent, “The price of rawhide has fallen as all the tanneries in Chittagong have shut down.
The Chittagong businessmen now depend on tannery owners of Dhaka. On the other hand, seasonal traders bought the rawhide for a high price and did not sell it early. This led to high losses.”
Sources said that around four lakh cowhides and 1.5 lakh goatskins were processed with salt in the Chittagong warehouses.
Around 200 rawhide warehouses are housed in Chittagong and 20,000–25,000 people are directly and indirectly involved with the rawhide business. More than 350 to 400 business units process rawhide in Chittagong.