Rawhide traders including wholesalers and seasonal business people are incurring significant losses in the post-Eid period due to government mismanagement, the high price of salt, and the low retail price of their products.
Thakurgaon rawhide market suffered after the government fixed the price at Tk60 per foot (30 centimetres), even though the traders do not measure their rawhide using the imperial system of measurement.
The administration blunder meant none of the wholesalers or retailers in Thakurgaon could buy or sell rawhides at the price fixed by the government. Instead, each foot of rawhide was sold for between Tk20 and Tk30 – at least half of the government agreed price.
For whole cowhides in Thakurgaon market, the price range of Tk250 to Tk800 was far less than the previous year.
“Rawhides which were sold at Tk1,100 last year got only Tk400 this year,” Forhad Reza, a Thakurgaon rawhide trader, said.
Compounding his woes was the retail price of salt: up to Tk1,200 per pack instead of the regular price of Tk450 in the district.
The Dhaka Tribune found most of the seasonal rawhide traders across the country were facing the same problem. The lifeline of the rawhide business – salt - was being sold at a much higher price than normal.
“Warehouse owners are charging Tk1,350 for each sack of salt currently,” said Asadul Haque, a retailer of the Barabazar market of Nilphamari.
In Barabaza, large rawhides were being sold between Tk350 and Tk400 and goat skins were going for between Tk30 and Tk35.
Abdul Hamid, a seasonal rawhide trader of Nilphamari, said he had bought 50 pieces of cowhides for a total of Tk35,000, but was only attracting offers of half this amount from the wholesalers.
The hub of the country’s tanning industry centred on Savar had already been facing problems.
An estimated four out of every five tanneries were expected to face a liquidity crisis in purchasing rawhide during Eid ul-Azha this year following the forced relocation of their factories from Old Dhaka.
Even now, not all the tanneries are functioning properly.
Leading industry voices have urged the authorities to think about an alternative to continuing the work of the tannery industry in Savar, if the four Central Treatment Plants (CTPs) are not installed by the Chinese contractors by September 30.
“The Chinese contractors have submitted a written agreement to the court saying they will hand over all four CTPs to the tannery owners within September 30,” Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) Chairman Mustak Hasan Md Iftekhar said.
“If they fail to do so then they will be fined for tannery owners losses.”