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Costlier sacrificial animals

Costlier sacrificial animals

WITH the start of wholesale purchases of cattle ahead of Eid-ul-Azha in Sindh, the prices of sacrificial animals have gone up.

According to market reports, compared to last year, this year wholesale buyers are paying at least Rs15,000-20,000 more for the purchase of an average bull. This will eventually lead to higher retail prices for buyers in the makeshift livestock bazaars, set up annually across the province.

In recent years, investors with stakes in other businesses have also entered the cattle trade; with some, according to traders, having set up their own farms to cater to the demand of both exports and sacrificial animals.

“The cost of animal fodder has been sky-rocketing in the last year, and is bound to affect the overall retail price of sacrificial animals this year. Only the rate of only oilcake (animal feed) has recently dropped, otherwise even this going beyond our reach”, says Shahid Nagori, who has been in the cattle business for close to two decades.

For this year’s Eid sale, he expects the minimum price for a bull to be around Rs150,000 and the maximum price at around Rs400,000, depending on the weight of the animal. He attributes around Rs15,000-20,000 appreciation in wholesale prices, compared to that of last year, to inflation in the cost of breeding animals.

The livestock business is fast expanding on the periphery of various cities in the province. A large number of investors, according to the General Secretary Livestock Traders’ Association Latif Qureshi, have seized the business opportunity offered by the growing market for sacrificial animals. The special breeding and sale of healthy and fancy cows or bulls has a direct bearing on the overall price trend on the eve of Eid-ul-Azha, he adds.

Bulk purchases of animals by religious seminaries, which offer a collective slaughtering facility to the faithful, are also a fast growing activity. Qureshi has bought 150 animals from the markets of Multan and Bahawalpur to be supplied to a Karachi-based seminary before Eid-ul-Azha. He says, 20pc of all cattle that reach Karachi’s cattle bazaar, Pakistan’s largest, is exceptionally fattened and a fancy item for affluent buyers.

Another reason for the hike in prices is that meat exports are increasing and the gap between demand and supply fluctuates sharply. A Karachi-based meat supplier, Imran Zafar, believes that the sale of meat to restaurants and retailers has increased sharply.

Zafar opines that from Ramzan onwards until a fortnight post-Eid-ul-Azha, the normal supply and demand equilibrium is upset. The government needs to come up with some projects to encourage cattle pen owners to raise livestock production, he adds.

The government had formed the Livestock and Dairy Development Board (L&DDB) several years back under which breeding of quality cattle was being promoted with financial and technical assistance to farmers. The project has been wound up.

Abid Ali, manager of one of the largest seminaries’ in Hyderabad’s Latifabad area, says he has been advised to hire a contractor who may supply him with 350-400 animals for collective slaughtering at the mosque’s site for the three days of Eid-ul-Azha.

“We will pay the contractor for all the animals after weighing their collective weight and then determine the amount per kg of beef”, he says. He adds that his seminary wants to avoid the usual bazaar hassle and the management of animals for a fortnight or so. The contractor will arrange the supply just a day before Eid.

The wholesale markets for goats organised on a weekly basis have just begun to function in many districts. Traders buy goats from Benazirabad, Umerkot, Jhuddo, Badin, Saeedabad etc. Prices of goats are higher this season. This is likely to force more people to opt for collective sacrifice of cows in seminaries or mosques at a lower cost.

Qureshi claims he has purchased 1,250 goats (with anticipated 10kg each net meat) for Rs12,000 for a meat suppliers group. This shows that the meat of sacrificial goats would cost him Rs1200/1kg at wholesale price.

Proper breeding of goats is not common as generally individuals are involved in breeding and fattening of sacrificial goats. The price they demand is Rs40,000-Rs50,000 per goat. Sales of sheep in the market remains negligible but people, in some cases, do rear them domestically for Eid-ul-Azha.

Published in Dawn, Business & Finance weekly, August 8th, 2016

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