With only a day remaining before Eid-ul-Azha, selling of sacrificial animals is yet to gain momentum at the markets in the capital.
However as of yesterday afternoon, prices of cattle were still high compared to that of last year, said buyers.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the number of buyers and sellers is also low at the markets. Traders fear loss as the pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economy, reducing people's capacity to purchase.Visiting Dhupkhola, Sadeque Hossain Khoka playground, Kachukhet and Gabtoli cattle markets, these correspondents saw that the haats, which usually remained abuzz with sellers, buyers and visitors around this time, looked rather desolate.
A mid-size bull was being sold at Tk 10,000 to 15,000 higher than last year's price while big-size ones were Tk 20,000-Tk 25,000 higher.
"I managed to sell three bulls so far… I am happy about it. At first I feared I won't be able to sell any due to lack of customers," said Jamal Bepari, who brought five bulls from Faridpur three days back to Sadeque Hossain Khoka cattle market.
He said he sold a bull for Tk 1.30 lakh yesterday.
Rafiqul Islam, a trader from Jhenidah who brought four mid-size bulls to Dhupkhola cattle market, said he was able to sell all the bulls.
He said he made Tk 40,000 profit after selling the bulls. "I was hoping to make more profit and I had to work hard to rear them. But given the situation, I am not complaining. Hopefully, I will make more profit next year."
Not all traders were as optimistic as Rafiqul.
Mohammad Shanto, who reared three bulls for around seven months targeting Eid, said he could sell only one as of yesterday. "I sold the bull for Tk 51,500, that too with a minimal profit."
Shanto arrived at Kachukhet cattle market three days back.
"The first two days were very frustrating for me as I kept on waiting for buyers to show up. Hopefully, tomorrow [today] being the last day before Eid, more people will come and purchase animals."
A total of 18 cattle markets have been set up in the capital this year, which is 10 less than last year.
Md Azmal, a trader from Jhenidah who brought 10 cattle to Dhupkhola cattle market, said, "Eighty percent traders in our area did not bring their bulls to the market fearing loss as they heard most people will not sacrifice animals due to financial crisis or coronavirus."
PRICES STILL HIGH
Even though the number of buyers and cattle is significantly lower this year, prices of animals seem to have gone up, complained city dwellers.
They said the capacity of purchasing sacrificial animals is less this year as many have lost their jobs or faced huge losses in their businesses due to the pandemic.
This correspondent met Shamshul Islam Khan, who initially decided not to sacrifice any animal this year but changed his mind afterwards, at Kachukhet market in the morning. He bought a bull for Tk 60,000, which he thought was at least Tk 10,000 more compared to the one he bought last year.
Mohammad Ridoy, a resident of Jatrabari who purchased a bull for Tk 70,000 at the haat, echoed him.
Many also said they are sacrificing animals by splitting the cost.
"I did not get bonus this year... I am sacrificing a bull along with my neighbours this year," said Md Shajahan, a private job holder from Mirpur.
POOR RESPONSE WORRY TRADERS
With Eid just a day away, many traders are worried as they were yet to sell their bulls.
"I brought 25 bulls from Faridpur two days back at Sadeque Hossain Khoka cattle market but could not sell any of them yet," said Mohammad Jony Sheikh.
Monsur Ali, a trader at Aftab Nagar cattle market, said, "I have a loan of Tk 5 lakh, which I'll have to pay by selling the bulls. If I don't get a good price from the market, I will have to sell those to meat traders after Eid."
Though production of cattle in the country this year is satisfactory, it's reflection was not seen in the markets. Traders now fear if the situation persists, they may have to drop prices drastically so that they could at least sell their cattle and make some money.
Dr Abdul Zabbar Shikdar, director general of the Department of Livestock, told The Daily Star that this year, 1.19 crore cattle have been reared targeting Eid, exceeding last year's demand by 10 lakh.
But the main challenge was selling the cattle at different markets while maintaining physical distance and following health guidelines, the DG said.