Smuggling thrives on steep fall in rawhide prices

Easy navigation in border rivers a boon

| Updated: October 20, 2017 00:20:52

Smuggling thrives on steep fall in rawhide prices

Drastic fall in rawhide prices has led to smuggling of a significant volume of skins of sacrificial animals this year, sector insiders said.


The easy navigation in overflowing rivers of bordering areas has come as a boon for the smugglers this season for smuggling rawhides through informal channels, they said.


 The seasonal traders and businesses concerned said the range of cowhide smuggling would widen significantly within a few days if the current price level persists.


They said although many seasonal traders were bound to sell hides at the current market rates, a number of businesses were storing theirs for better price offers from the smugglers. 


Cowhides had been selling at Tk 450-Tk 1,500 per piece (16 to 34 square feet), goatskins Tk 25-Tk 60 per piece (four to six square feet) and sheep hide at Tk 25-Tk 40 per piece across the country since the day of holy Eid-ul-Azha, observed on September 02 last.


 During Eid-ul-Azha occasion, the tanners in the country collect 70 per cent of their required leather.


Though there was a decline in slaughter of sacrificial animals this year, prices of skins reached a low, according to  hide and skin traders' associations in divisional cities.


This year, Bangladesh Tanners Association (BTA) fixed the price of salted cowhide at Tk 50-Tk 55 per square foot in Dhaka and Tk 40-45 outside the capital while salted goatskin at Tk 20-22 and Tk 15-17 respectively.


The price is the same as that of last year. But the primary trading prices of hide is 25-30 per cent lower this year than that of last year, traders said.


Md Nizam, a seasonal trader at Rayer Bazar, bought cowhide and goatskins worth Tk 0.5 million this Eid. He bought cowhide at Tk 1,200-Tk 1,600 per piece and goatskin at Tk 50-Tk 52 a piece (including cost of salt, transport and labour).


He said rawhide traders in Posta are offering Tk 1,200-Tk 1,500 for cowhide and Tk 40-Tk 50 for goatskins.


"The wholesalers and tanners have formed a syndicate to buy skins at very cheaper rates this year," he said.


 However, he said they would store the hides for some more days and then sell those to many businessmen in bordering areas.


He said the trend of hide smuggling is increasing in the current year because of 'throwaway' prices in the domestic market.


Md Rasheduzzaman, a hide trader in Nilphamari, said thousands of pieces of cowhides and goatskins were being smuggled out to India from the Eid day through Dimla in Nilphamari, Hatibandha in Lalmonirhat, Haripukur and Birol border in Dinajpur. 


Teesta, Punarbhaba, Brahmaputra, Tangon, Karatoa River routes are being used by the illegal rawhide traffickers this year as navigation is easy now, he said.


He said local traders are offering only Tk 450-Tk 800 per piece of cowhide which was Tk 1,000-Tk 1,500 last year after Eid in Rangpur division.


He said the low prices have been encouraging small-scale seasonal traders to sell them to smugglers.


Harun Ur Rashid, president of Rangpur Hide Traders Association said rawhide is being smuggled while it would further increase if the current price level exists. He said prices of rawhide are Tk 70-Tk 95 per square foot in India when domestic prices are hovering between Tk 35-Tk 40.


 President of Bangladesh Hide and Skin Merchants Association Hazi Md Delowar Hossain also admitted that hides might be smuggled out because of the lower prices.


 He said they had targeted to purchase 4.7 million pieces of cowhide and 3.1 million pieces of goat and sheep hide this year from across the country.


The target might not be fulfilled as the number of sacrificial animals has declined at least by 10 per cent this year amid flooding that caused shortfall of animals, he said. 


BTA president Shaheen Ahmed, in an interview, said that the seasonal traders would not make any losses as they bought skins at much lower rates from households.


He said the concerned government agencies will have to continue their strict vigilance for next two months in the bordering areas to prevent smuggling of rawhide.


However, the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) tightened security along the border to prevent hide smuggling, the public relations office of the BGB said.


The BGB local authorities have also instructed all the border outposts to remain on highest alert along the frontiers so that not a single hide is smuggled out from the country.


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