Kashmir's leather trade, processing severely hit

Kashmir's leather trade, processing severely hit

No takers for qurbani hides as prices plummet from Rs 400 to Rs 30 a piece

There are not many takers for the raw hides of sacrificial animals post Eid-ul-Adha this year, as leather traders here say dip in international demand towards Indian market after the BJP government came into power at the centre has plummeted the prices from Rs 400 to Rs 30 for a single sheep or goat skin in last three years. 

Sacrificial animal hides used to have significance as many religious institutions, orphanages and poor people collect these animal skins and sell them to leather dealers for generating some income. 

However, due to drastic dip in prices, not many charities this year have been found interested in collecting these hides. 

“Earlier people from orphanages would make beeline to our home for collecting the qurbani hide but this year it is the fourth day of the Eid and not a single person has knocked our door and we are looking for means, how to dispose it off,” said Mushtaq Ahmad of Lal Bazar. 

As these hides are not fetching good price in the market and leather dealers are not interested, as their business has got hugely hit, majority of the charities have stopped to collect the hides. 

Kashmir which is known for meat consumption has been a thriving market for raw leather procurement and initial processing like tanning and a good number of people are traditionally involved in leather processing and tanning, making them dependent on the sector for their livelihood. 

“After BJP government came into power at Centre and its opposition to cow slaughter forced international buyers to look for other markets for buying hides for using in manufacturing of leather products at their processing units,” said a trader here, who is involved in buying and tanning of the hides. 

However, another trader Bashir Ahmad, who claims that the leather processing business is passing through worst slump in Kashmir, said there are number of factors contributing to downfall of leather industry in India and Kashmir particular. He blamed government for its lack of support to this sector of the economy in the state. 

“A hide which used to fetch Rs 300 in 2014, is now sold at Rs 40 and on this Eid-ul-Adha some dealers are purchasing an animal hide for Rs 15 only,” said Mohammad Ayoub, who is also dealing with this trade. 

Ayoub said that the procurement of the leather from countries like New Zealand had made inroads in the Indian markets, which is directly hitting indigenous leather industry of Kashmir.

“There is no duty on the leather imported from other countries. Just because the raw material is very cheap the industry has started using it for manufacturing leather goods,” he said.

Former president of Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir, Shakeel Qalander said that the leather industry of Kashmir is passing through difficult phase.

“Over 1 lakh animal hide pieces are laying unsold in various leather processing units in Kashmir,” Qalander said adding that there are hardly any takers for it, resulting in losses for local unit holders.

He said that other reason is that wet blue leather from Gulf is chosen over Kashmiri leather, which is not a good sign, our local industry.

“Our local units don’t have purchasing power to buy all the raw hides in Kashmir,” he said adding that levying of GST has further burdened this already fragile sector.