Economic crunch keeps many buyers away from cattle market

A view of a temproray cattle market in connection with the Eidul Adha at Bhatta Chowk Livestock Market. Photo: APP

RAWALPINDI: Business was quieter than usual at one of Pakistan´s biggest livestock markets as an economic crunch stopped customers from splashing out on cows, sheep and goats for the Eid al-Adha holiday.

Farmers have been camped at the I-15 cattle market between Islamabad and Rawalpindi for two weeks, hoping to sell their stock ahead of the holiday, which starts Monday, but buyers are scarce. Pakistan´s economy is in the doldrums, with rampant inflation affecting everything — including holiday spending.

Muhammad Mumtaz, who brought 50 animals to market, still had 30 left to sell. “Inflation is so high that customers do not have the purchasing power,” he told AFP as he sat on a wooden bed. “We can´t sell them cheaply,” he added.Feed is expensive, wheat is expensive, the truck fare has doubled… so there is nothing left for us.” Like Muslims elsewhere in the world, Pakistanis usually buy an animal for slaughter over Eid al-Adha, keeping a third for themselves, a third for friends and relatives, and a third for charity.

Muslims say it commemorates the readiness of Hazrat Ibrahim (PBUH) — Abraham in the Christian and Jewish faiths — to sacrifice his son to show obedience to Allah. “Prices are very high,” Khurram Taseer, a bank employee, told AFP after splashing out 140,000 rupees (around $700) for a bullock. He said his extended family usually bought two cows for the holiday, but this year had cut down to one. The market is divided into sections according to the type of animal, with bulls selling for 100,000 to 700,000 rupees, while goats and sheep fetch between 40,000 and 100,000.

The farmers spend time cleaning and grooming the animals, festooning them with floral garlands in the hope of attracting customers. Still, many would-be buyers left empty-handed.”Most people are not sacrificing animals because of the prices,” said farmer Mulazim Hussain.

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