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COVID-19 dampens business for goat sellers on Bakrid in Lucknow

Goats masked at a livestock market as vendors wait for their sale, ahead of sacrificial festival of Eid al-Adha, in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday, July 28, 2020.

Goats masked at a livestock market as vendors wait for their sale, ahead of sacrificial festival of Eid al-Adha, in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday, July 28, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

A rough path near the iconic ‘Pakka Pul’ slopes down to a flat patch of land bordered with dense overgrowth on the bank of the Gomti here.

Small clusters of different breeds of goats, from the Ajmeri to the Totapuri and Barbari, tightly held by their eager guardians, dot the area.

Also read: Faith | What is Bakrid?

Potential buyers trickle in slowly. Little regard is shown for social distancing, perhaps constrained by the lack of space, arrangement and supervision. Goat owners have to skelter from one spot to another to catch the eye of customers.

Shakeel sold three goats, for ₹10,000-11,000 each, but they were smaller than the two he is now holding — a Barbari and a Rajasthani breed — he quickly points out.

“This time there is a demand for smaller goats,” says Shakeel, who came all the way from Misrikh in Sitapur district to sell his goats for the Id-ul-zuha festival in which Muslims sacrifice animals, most commonly goats as per ritual.

Also read: Pakistan urges worshippers to buy sacrificial animals online to prevent COVID-19 surge

Shakeel has billed his two remaining goats at ₹35,000. But he is yet to get the right price.

He rears goats every year hoping to secure profits during this festival when it is easier to command higher rates. The economic impact of COVID-19 has, however, dampened the mood for these traders as well as many buyers.

“The lockdown went for three-four months. This has crushed the common man,” he says, when asked why it was difficult to get good prices this time. “They feel if they spend too much on ‘qurbani’, they don’t know what situation they might have to deal with in coming days.” he said.

Reluctant buyers

Traders at the haphazardly arranged ‘bazaar’ under the bridge narrated how customers were reluctant to stretch their budget this time. For many, the prices offered did not even meet the costs of rearing. On average, a goat rearer spent ₹2,000 for an animal each month, mainly on ‘chana’, wheat and hay, they said.

Arif, from Unnao, stands with three Barbari and two ‘desi’ (local) goats. He is offering them at ₹12,000 each, but so far nobody is willing to pay more than ₹7,000-₹8,000. “With this amount I can’t even cover the costs of feeding the goat,” he rues. Arif recalls that last year he had commanded a price of ₹18,000-₹19,000 for similarly sized goats.

Altaf from Sitapur has had no luck either. He has four goats, which he is willing to part with for ₹30,000 a pair. “These were originally priced at ₹35,000 per pair. But people are telling us we don’t have money, what to do,” he said. Instead of selling the goat at a lower price, Altaf says he prefers to hold it for next year, though it could lead to a rise in costs. Many like him continued to wait in hope of better prices. Some have brought fewer goats than last year.

While customers in the city say it has not been too difficult to locate goats even without designated bazaars — many are purchasing them from rural markets on the outskirts of the city — some are hassled and feel the pinch.

Shakeel Ahmed has just purchased a pair of goats for ₹22,000. “The goat that came for ₹7,000 last year is available this time for ₹12,000-13,000. That’s what has changed,” says Shakeel, who is into the embroidery business.

Ahle-Umar Qureshi, Uttar Pradesh general secretary of the All-India Jamiatul Quresh, the apex body of meat-sellers, says there is a visible shortage in animals this festival. Goats are not coming in from other districts in the same numbers. Goats from Kalpi in Jalaun, Kannauj and rural Kanpur are popular in Lucknow’s markets, with the Yamunapari and Barbari goats being sought after. To make the most out of the situation, goat sellers are selling at higher rates, said Mr. Qureshi, who added his outfit was still negotiating with the administration to allow proper markets to be arranged for sale of the goats and salvage the situation.

SDM Sadar said no permission has yet been given for holding bazaars but a meeting on it would be held soon.

Mohsin Raza, Minister of State for Minority Welfare, said there were no restrictions on animal sacrifice at home but slaughtering would be not allowed in public places.

Asked how the customers were supposed to buy goats without proper markets, he suggested that they do it privately. He also said those selling animals despite the restrictions on social gathering were “putting their lives under risk, “ and suggested that instead of buying goats Muslims should donate the money to help poor people from their community or those who lost their livelihood due to COVID-19.

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Printable version | Aug 14, 2020 5:25:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/covid-19-dampens-business-for-goat-sellers-on-bakrid-in-lucknow/article32218566.ece

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