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LAHORE: Just two days into the Eid-ul-Azha, the people have rushed to the cattle markets to buy sacrificial animals, but exorbitant prices and sultry weather have dampened their spirits.

The Lahore district administration-designated sacrificial animals markets were buzzing with buyers with the hope of buying an animal, but the prices forced them to leave the markets empty-handed and disappointed.

Most of the buyers complained that the prices of these animals do not fit in their pockets. This very factor had deterred the people from visiting the markets earlier with the hope that the prices would come down nearer to Eid day, which was not the case on Friday.

The administration had set up one permanent and 12 temporary cattle markets at Shahpur Kanjran, Pine Avenue Road, Shanu Baba (near Raiwind Road), Sundar Road (opposite Nisar Haveli), NFC Society (near Bahria Town), Raiwind Road (near Manga Mandi), Sagian Road, Lakho Dahar (near Lahore Ring Road), LDA City (near Kahna Kacha Road), Gajumata (near Lahore Ring Road Office), N Block of DHA Phase 9 and Sabzi Mandi (near Nishtar Colony).

During the visit to the markets, it was noticed that many buyers were giving preference to goats and sheep over cows due to the spread of Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) in big animals.

This year, it was expected that the sacrificial animals would be expensive due to the inflationary environment, but to many buyers the prices were shocking. The demand price for sacrificial animals has witnessed manifold increase. A goat of an average size ranged between Rs40,000 and Rs55,000, which last year was available in the range of Rs25000-30,000.

Moreover, the prices of a goat/sheep of medium size jumped to around, on average, Rs60,000 that was available for around Rs36,000 last year and if the animal’s look is outstanding then add an extra Rs20,000. The price of a well-built goat/sheep starts from Rs90,000 and goes up to around Rs100,000; this group of animals is for the elite class only.

The prices of cows also witnessed a considerable increase, but less in comparison to small animals. The price of an average cow was between Rs125,000 and Rs130,000 whereas the same animal was available in the range of Rs90,000-95,000 last year.

For a well-built buffalo, the sellers were asking for between Rs180,000 and Rs220,000, depending on its look, and last year this size animal was available in the range between Rs135,000 and Rs180,000. However, the fear of LSD has slowed down the sale of cows; the buyers were reluctant to buy these sacrificial animals and thus were focused on goats and sheep.

The story of people buying cows infected with LSD was spreading among the people. A buyer met at LDA Avenue One told this scribe that one of his friends bought a buffalo infected with LSD. “The disease emerged only after buying the animal a few days ago. Hence, I have decided to go for a goat; it is very expensive but it was a safe buy,” he added.

To assure the buyers of big animals, the sellers were showing LSD vaccination certificates. The local administration was vaccinating big animals at the arrival of the markets and was very vigilant. It has decided to slaughter a cow infected with the disease on the spot and arrest the seller for selling an infected animal.

Meanwhile, the sellers say the high cost of transportation and animal fodder was responsible for the current prices of animals in the market. Allah Ditta, a trader at LDA Avenue One cattle market who hails from south Punjab, told this scribe that thousands of animals are available in the market, but due to the exceeding cost of fodder and other items, the price of animals was very high.

Shakeel from northern Punjab pointed out that an unprecedented hike in the prices of petrol has made transportation of animals very expensive and thus this factor alone compelled them to push the prices of animals up. “Combination of this factor and increase in the price of animal feed has pumped up the price of a sacrificial animal,” he added.

A buyer, Bilal Sheikh, complained of high prices and said that the goatherds were asking ridiculous prices for a goat. “It was almost double from last year. I am a businessman and even then I am finding it hard to find an animal at a reasonable rate,” he added.

Another buyer was seen leaving the market empty-handed and his face showed displeasure over the prevailing skyrocketing prices of animals. He showed anger and said nothing positive can happen in this country. “For the past few years, the animals have become unaffordable for the common man and this year it was ridiculous,” he added. He pinned his hopes on the rain that may bring the prices down and thus he could buy an animal within his budget. People were also complaining about higher transportation charges from markets to homes because of high petrol prices. A buyer said that he had to pay over Rs3000 to transport the animals he bought from Shahpur Kanjran to his place in Islampura.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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