Saturday, 16 October, 2021

Special steps needed to revive leather industry

Special steps needed to revive  leather industry

Corona has reduced the country's trade and economic activities. Many people have sacrificed in the past despite the decrease in their income, but they were not able to do so this time. On the other hand, even after investing a large amount of money in animal husbandry for sale in the Qurbani haats, there was uncertainty as to where and how they will sell in the lockdown. Due to these reasons, sacrificial animals were sold less this time. As a result, leather traders fear that the supply of raw hides will be less. However, the demand for processed leather and leather products has also declined due to Corona both at home and abroad. Old orders are being canceled almost every day in the tanneries of this country. It goes without saying that there is no new order.

Unable to sell, the tannery industries have lost hundreds of crores of taka worth of hides collected last Eid. The leather traders said that if these products are sold now, good prices will not be available. The quality declined in the tanneries as the price of leather and leather products have fallen. The leather sector directly employs about six lakh people and indirectly employs another three lakh. Leather and leather products accounted for four per cent of Bangladesh's total exports, which was five percent of the country's total GDP. In 2024, the total export earnings from this sector is projected to increase to five billion dollars and the target has been set to grow at nine per cent of the total GDP. Corona has changed all that and the sector has collapsed.

In the last 20 years, the leather sector in Bangladesh has not been in such a bad condition. Corona has almost finished this sector. Not only is there a war against Corona, but also there is a war to keep the business afloat. Europe is the main market for leather. Over the past year, almost every country in Europe has faced lockdown. While some European countries started lifting the lockdown from April-May last year, Delta variants have started lockdown again. China and America are also affected by the Corona. The shops there are also not interested in buying new products.

According to the Ministry of Livestock, an average of 20 million cows, buffaloes, goats and sheep are slaughtered in the country every year. More than half of it is slaughtered during Eid-ul-Adha. An average of 45 lakh cows and buffaloes and six million goats and sheep were slaughtered during Eid. This time, even if there are sacrificial animals in the country, there will be less buyers during the financial crisis due to Corona. On the other hand, those who have invested in animal husbandry for sacrificial animals for Eid are also in uncertainty.

Marginal cattle farmers are lamenting that this time the number of haats has been reduced. People don't know where to go to buy the animals in Corona. Due to the low number of buyers this time, many cattle traders decided not to sell cows at a loss. Many people have bought cows on credit, so if there is a loss, they will be on the road.

Leather industry is the most popular sector after the readymade garment industry. The country's leather sector is largely export dependent. Due to Corona, about two lakh more people have fallen below the poverty line across the country. It has become difficult to procure three meals a day for many, so most are not thinking of buying shoes unless absolutely necessary. Foreigners have canceled many previous orders. Shoe companies are also spending their days in despair.

There are 155 tanneries in Savar leather city. Of these, 110 are producing wet blue and 20 are producing crust. The rest could not go into production. The owners of the tanneries complained that the tanneries were also in crisis over the factory environment due to the outbreak of corona. The collection of animal skins may also be hampered due to various problems prevailing in the industrial city. The Central Waste Treatment Plant is not yet fully operational.

On the other hand, there are several thousand tanneries in Bamtala, Kanpur, Chennai and Punjab in India. After the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power, strict slaughter restrictions were imposed on cows. So, Indian tanneries mainly collect raw hides from Bangladesh on Eid-ul-Adha. Every year after Eid-ul-Azha, leather is smuggled from this country to India. In a meeting with the industry minister last week and earlier with the home minister, the leather traders demanded increased surveillance at the border to curb leather smuggling.

The leather traders in the financial crisis have demanded loans to buy leather like previous years. However, the condition is that as much as the loan of the previous year is repaid, it is given as a loan for the next year. This time the traders have not been able to repay even half of the previous year's loan due to corona. However, it is hoped that the Ministry of Industries will release the leather industry from this dilemma by reviewing the relevant issues.


Tarek Tanvir, Student of Department of Zoology, University of Chittagong