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LAHORE: With Eid-ul-Azha approaching fast, the rush in the cattle markets is peaking in the provincial capital, but high prices of sacrificial animals are upsetting the buyers. The Lahore District Administration had set up 12 sacrificial animals markets including the ones at Shahpur Kanjran, Lakhudair, LDA City Housing Scheme, Defence Road, DHA Phase 9 Prism, Pine Avenue, Saggian, Hazrat Usman Ghani Road, NFC Society and Manga/Raiwind Road.

Like previous years, this year too the demand price of small sacrificial animals witnessed a huge increase. The asking price for a small goat/sheep hovered around Rs25,000 that was available under Rs20,000 last year. This year the demand price for a goat of average size is above Rs40,000, which last year was available in the range of Rs25000-30,000. Prices of a goat/sheep of above-average size witness a sharp rise, which ranged between Rs75,000-85,000; and if the animal's look is outstanding then on average addition of extra Rs50,000. This type of animals is for the elite class only.

The prices of cows, which had been stable for the past few years, also witness a visible jump. The price of an average cow ranged between Rs110,000 and Rs140,000, which was in the range of Rs90,000-100,000 last year. For a well-built buffalo, the sellers are asking between Rs160,000 and Rs 180,000, depending on its look while for an outstanding animal the asking demand is Rs250,000.

The sharp increase in the prices forced many buyers to leave in despair and revisit the market with the hope of finding an animal that fits in their budget. They bemoaned about the high prices while the sellers stuck to their reason of 'increasing costs'. "We are forced to push the prices up in the backdrop of an increase in the cost of transportation and animal feed," they said.

The Saggian cattle market was bustling with buyers, but many were seen leaving empty-handed. A buyer, Mohsin told Business Recorder that the prices are astonishingly high and the sellers are stubbornly not negotiating the price. "Last year I bought a goat for Rs37,000 and for the same size this year they are demanding in the range of Rs45,000." Later, he had to settle for a slightly bigger animal with a price tag of Rs52,500.

At Shahpur Kanjran, a seller (Imran) was telling a buyer that since the 'educated middle men' jumped into the business of livestock farming, the price dynamic has changed. He said that for the past few years, livestock farming is trending in urban areas and it has seen visible growth.

"A large number of city dwellers have opened livestock farm businesses on the outskirts of the city and buy the stock directly from the livestock farmers well before the religious festivity, and subsequently disconnect the connection between the livestock farmer and the buyer. This has enabled them to set their own prices," Imran said.

Meanwhile, despite repeated warnings issued by the Lahore district administration on the possible fourth wave of Coronavirus, a number of large people at the cattle markets refused to wear face masks and or practice social distancing.

When asked about the precautionary measures, many buyers said it is difficult to use masks in this humid weather while it is almost impossible to keep a distance in a crowded place. "May Almighty will protect us all from the virus," they prayed.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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