The country is likely to witness a fall in rawhide collection this year amid the apprehension of relatively lower participation of people in animal sacrifice during the Eid-ul-Azha due to COVID-19 pandemic casting a broader impact on the leather industry, said an industry leader.
"There’re reasons to see a decline," Chairman of Bangladesh Tanners Association (BTA) Md Shameem Ahamed told UNB sharing three major reasons behind the possible fall.
He said maintaining health guidelines is one of the reasons apart from zoning systems to be put in place with some restrictions.
Secondly, the BTA Chairman said, lower- and middle-income groups are in financial crisis as they have lost their incomes which may force them to take ‘a decision’.
Shaheen said floods in some parts of the country put people into great miseries resulting in possible low participation of people in animal sacrifice this year.
According to State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Enamur Rahman, the raging floods have already affected nearly 2.25 million people of 487,376 families in 18 districts.
The BTA Chairman said the overall export -- leather and leather goods -- will fall due to low collection of rawhide.
Shaheen said the market of leather, rawhide and sacrificial animals was of about Tk 40,000 crore last year. But this year, he said, the market transaction volume will come down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Commerce Ministry in consultation with the industry leaders will fix rawhide price soon. "We’ll give some recommendations. We hope the rawhide price will be fixed on July 26," Shaheen Ahmed said.
Commerce Minister Tipu Minshi said the government will do whatever necessary to ensure fair price for rawhide. "Steps have been taken giving much importance to the issue and taking past experiences into consideration."
The Commerce Minister said the government has kept the option of rawhide export in mind to avert any situation like that of previous year.
Last year, the price of per square feet of salted cowhide and buffalo rawhide was fixed at Tk 45-50 in Dhaka and at Tk 35-40 for outside the capital.
The price of salted hide of castrated goats across the country had been fixed at Tk 18-20 per square feet while that of salted skin uncastrated goat at Tk 13-15.
The BTA Chairman said the price may be fixed at a lower level this year.
The Commerce Minister said there will be no financial crisis for collecting rawhide.
Senior Vice Chairman of BTA Eliasur Rahman (Babul), however, said they are still worried about having adequate bank loan and cash to purchase rawhide.
He said the issues need to be addressed assessing the situation on the ground.
According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), Bangladesh earned $1.01 billion by exporting leather, leather goods and leather footwear in the 2018-19 fiscal year (FY). The export earnings from the leather sector were $1.08 billion in the FY2017-18.
The export of various leather products fetched about $998 million in the 2019-20 FY, says EPB.
According to the Department of Livestock Services, there is a stock of 1.18 crore sacrificial animals in the country this year.