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E-commerce sites bask in animal shopping boom

Updated August 11, 2019

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Illustration by Leea Contractor
Illustration by Leea Contractor

KARACHI: Engrossed in conversation about their plans for Eidul Azha, women sitting at a salon in DHA Phase VI claimed their brothers and husbands had opted for something new this year.

“No one wanted to go to the mandi [sacrificial animal market], so they ordered a cow via Daraz,” said one woman, while another claimed that her husband had found a good deal on Facebook — from a man who was into organic farming.

Over the years, the trend of buying groceries, clothes and electronics online has increased.

In July, Daraz, an e-commerce company, introduced its customers to Daraz Mandi (for Karachi only) where they can bargain, get discounts and even visit the main mandi along the Super Highway if they wanted to check the sacrificial animal before making the final payment. Along with goats, cows and bulls, the e-commerce website also sells cattle feed.

The prices of animals range from Rs25,000 for goats (the website also mentions their teeth and weight enabling customers to make an informed decision) to Rs200,000 for Australian cows and Rs650,000 for Sahiwal bred cows.

Claiming that orders will be taken till Aug 10 (today), the e-commerce website promises to deliver the animals to customer’s doorstep. However, once bought, there is no return policy.

Speaking to Dawn, a spokesperson for Daraz said they had received a decent response. “I can’t give exact numbers but the targets we set were achieved,” he said.

Online competition grows for animal selection, purchase, sacrifice, packaging and delivery

He confirmed that the entire process — from procurement, purchase to timely delivery — was handled by the Daraz team. “This is what Daraz does for everyone. It is a market place. Sellers and buyers can talk to each other, negotiate prices and visit our mandi if there is a need to do so, otherwise the animal will be delivered to the address provided in a day,” he explained.

Sacrificial animals are also being bought via startups such as Al Halal Farms and websites such as www.eidqurbani.com.pk that claim to be the country’s first online cattle market.

Similarly, Afiyah Organic Farm’s website has uploaded photos of animals on sale. Taimoor Khan bought his animals by visiting the organic farm’s website.

He said: “A friend of mine had already bought his animals from here and had told me that they had a good stock so I placed my order as well.” He explained that the cow cost him Rs400 multiplied by the weight of the animal.

Outsourcing the qurbani

Many people have outsourced the process entirely. For example, Aftab Haider from Islamabad prefers to use Meat One. “We have always celebrated Eid in our hometown, Kohat. Somebody was always available to go for purchasing goat. When we shifted to Islamabad a few years ago, we were not familiar with the place or people so finding an animal at the right price and a butcher to sacrifice the animal at home was a challenge,” he said.

“Meat One offered an easy way out. However, to be honest, the deciding factor was the facility to pay by credit card. I was hard pressed for money at the time but wanted to do the qurbani as well, hence, Meat One,” he reasoned.

Karachi’s Amrah Ghazanfar, who also opted for their service, said it was “convenient and hassle-free. The quality and packaging of the meat is also good”.

An employee at one such outlet told Dawn on Friday that the animals were booked solid for the first two days of Eid. He claimed Meat One had become popular for the qurbani over the past four years.

Their competitor, Zabeeha by Fauji Meat Limited (a part of Fauji Foundation), started off last year and claimed to have received excellent response.

“This Eid our qurbani is limited to Karachi. Customers coming to our branches book sacrificial animals by paying cash or through their cards. We are charging around Rs27,000 for a goat and Rs17,100 for a cow share. We plan to wrap up all the qurbani and deliveries by the second day of Eid,” said Zabeeha’s marketing manager Younus Usmani while talking to Dawn.

“I think the reason we have received a good response in our first independent project is the quality of our meat and our packaging. We won’t dump the meat in plastic bags or a tokri but every part will be properly packed for example, the mixed boti, boneless pieces and raan will be packed separately,” he added.

For people such as Ali Khan, Metro Cash & Carry was a good option to avoid pungent smell at the mandi and bad weather. “At least this way I will get some time to spend at home and catch up with the family,” he said.

Metro also offers Bank Al Falah customers the opportunity to order their sacrificial animals through the bank mobile app, while taking care of the entire process.

Goats for Water

However, Fariel Salahuddin and Qudsia Nashmeel of Goats for Water have something different to offer. Goats for Water is a social enterprise that enables off-grid farming communities to meet their farming and household needs using livestock as currency.

This Eid, they have three offers – delivery of goat (from Thar) to your house in Karachi; qurbani through a charity organisation, Saylani Welfare Trust; and gift a goat to a low-income family helping them increase self-reliance by using the animal for their livelihood and nutrition (milk).

Talking to Dawn, Ms Salahuddin said the response so far had been very good.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2019