The Pakistan Tanners Association has had a bad year and it doesn’t look like business is getting any better. Their biggest problem? The export of leather is dropping.
There are a number of reasons for this: global warming, fewer animals being sacrificed and cheaper global alternatives to Pakistani hides.
The former chairperson of the association, Gulzar Firoz, told SAMAA Digital that the number of animals sacrificed this year is 10% less than last year. He attributed this to inflation. Fewer people were able to afford to sacrifice animals this year, and that meant fewer animal hides were sold to tanneries.
Welfare organisations collect animal hides during the three days of Eidul Azha and then pass them on the middle man who preserves the hides. Fifteen days later, tanneries contact these middle men to purchase the hides.
Firoz said the association expected that four million goats would be sacrificed this year but only 3.5 million were. They expected one million lambs to be sacrificed but only 800,000 were. The number of camels sacrificed was also less than their 100,000 estimate.
He blamed this on the twin issues of inflation and a declining demand for leather abroad.
“The rate for sacrificial animals’ hides has decreased dramatically because there aren’t any buyers in international markets,” he explained. Goat hides now cost Rs150, which is a Rs100 drop from previous rates. You’ll get Rs800 for cow hide, which is 50% less than what you would have got last year.
Sheep hides can be sold for just Rs50 this year, which is almost Rs100 less than last year, he said, adding that camel hides are being sold for Rs400 to Rs500.
But a major issue affecting exports from Pakistani tanneries is that they aren’t giving the hides free of charge. Hides are available free of charge in Argentina, Brazil and the United States, according to Firoz.
Climate change and global warming are also factors that have led to fewer leather exports, he explained. It isn’t as cold anymore so the demand for raw leather is decreasing.