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Name of the game: bargain and exploit

October 26, 2012

ISLAMABAD, Oct 26: Traders of skins and hides are gearing up to meet the hectic demand in the coming days, in order to maximise profit.  

However, the prices of goat skins have improved slightly this year compared to prices last year.

“The direction has been set but the final rates will be settled on the last evening of Eid,” said Chaudhry Zaheer, a prominent skin and hide trader in Rawalpindi, whose family has been in the business, since 1936.

He said that the main market is set in Karachi and Lahore but there is a localised effect on the trade.

“The largest seller in Karachi is MQM and the rate offered by the buyers there has declined by Rs500 per cattle hide, compared to last year,” Mr Zaheer said adding that this had set the downward trend across the country.

However, for the local markets, the largest seller of goat skins and cattle hides are Edhi foundation and Jamaat-i-Islami.

The results of a tender floated by Edhi Foundation, announced here Thursday that the rate at which traders would buy goat skins on Eidul Azha 2012 is Rs485.96, the rate for sheep skin is Rs759 and hide of cows and bulls will be bought at Rs2,260.

“The rate of hide is Rs1,000 less than what was offered last year but the rate of goat skin has gone up by around Rs50 per piece,” said an official of the Edhi Foundation, overseeing the process.

While it seems to be an organised trade for bulk sellers, which are mainly the Madaris –religious schools – and some NGOs but for those collecting skins and hides at a small scale, the name of the game is bargain and exploit.

The main market for the skin and hide trade is Jamia Masjid road Rawalpindi, where less than a dozen players are involved in the business. But one will see only heaps of skins and hides starting from Banni Chowk, as scores of buyers enter the field.

“We have a contract with a large dealer in Lahore and we will send our truckload to him,” said Usman, a comparatively new entrant in the field, as his family had shifted from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), recently.

“We save up to Rs100 per skin by selling it to a merchant in Lahore – he has some long term contracts with a few tanneries,” Usman said.

Like other bulk buyers in the field, he too has a batch of workers from Swat to help apply salt, trim and set the scores of skins and hide.

The key sellers to these wholesale traders are the small scale part timers, who roam around on cycles or sit alongside major roads in the twin cities offering to buy hides but mainly the goat skins, and these people offer a maximum of around Rs250 for each goat skin.

But they make around Rs100 for each skin by selling to the traders at Jamia Masjid road, and that is because many people who collect skins in small quantities, do not go to Jamia Masjid road.

“Last year we collected around 15 goat skins but going to that place is a troublesome job,” said Malik Yousuf, who collects skins and hides of sacrificial animals for their community based library.

“The main hassle is moving around in a somewhat filthy environment, and the worst thing is that the traders too try to bring down rates by making lame excuses,” he added.

Whatever the prices may be but there is always competition to buy more skins and hides and book them in trucks for tanneries in Lahore, Kasur, Sialkot and other parts of Punjab.