The price of sacrificial animal skins has been declining for several years. People in the leather sector are being affected. In this reality, Md. Muslim Uddin, President, Greater Chittagong Raw Leather Storekeeper Traders Cooperative Society Limited, has spoken about the leather market this year.
Question: How much leather has been collected this time?
Md. Muslim Uddin: This time our target was three and a half lakh. One and a half lakh skins have already reached our storekeepers. We saved it with salt. Another 1.5 lakh skins have been stored by traders in different upazilas of Anwara, Banshkhali, Chandnaish and adjoining districts. Bring it here in time.
Q: What is the reason for less collection than other years?
Md. Muslim Uddin: People have sacrificed less because of Corona. I saw the same situation last year. People do not have money. So could not sacrifice. As a result, the skin is reduced. Earlier I have collected up to four and a half lakh skins.
Q: How many storekeepers have saved the skin?
Md. Muslim Uddin: There are 112 storekeepers in our association. 30 to 40 of them have collected skins. The rest have lost money and gone bankrupt. So traders have declined. Another 60-70 people outside the association collected leather.
Q: Do you get a loan for leather collection?
Md. Muslim Uddin: Banks give loans to tannery owners. Does not give us credit. Many have become beggar after suffering losses for years and not being able to recover the arrears. I will appeal to the government to revive this industry with our low interest loans.
Q: How much money is owed to the tannery owners?
Md. Muslim Uddin: From 2015 to 2018, the warehouse owners of Chittagong will get Tk 25 crore from the tannery owners. They have not paid that money yet. The money for 2019 and 2020 has been given roughly. It is difficult to run a business without arrears.
Q: In 2019, a lot of skin rotted. There were allegations that you syndicated to reduce the price of leather. There are allegations that the seasonal traders did not get a fair price again.
Md. Muslim Uddin: Not a single skin was damaged this time. The administration was monitoring. All the skins have been neatly preserved. We have no syndicate. Here the seasonal traders buy leather at a higher price without realizing it. We cannot buy outside the price fixed by the government. This time outside Dhaka, it has been fixed at Tk. 31 to 37 per square foot. But to save one foot of raw leather costs 12 Tk. for salt and wages. There are transportation costs outside of this. So those who bought leather without understanding these, they will cheat. I also bought big leather for Tk. 400-450. Medium Tk. 350.
Q: When will the leather tannery owners take it? There is a lockdown in front. Will there be any problem?
Md. Muslim Uddin: The skin will go to the tannery owners in three-four days. Besides, the rest of the leather will come from upazilas and districts. We will not have problems due to lockdown. Because, leather cars have been kept out of the lockdown.