Covid-19: Virus wary buyers switch to online platforms to buy sacrificial animals

While online platforms offer convenience and protection to customers, instances of fraud have also been reported

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LAHORE: Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the government imposed lockdowns, people in the provincial capital of Punjab have moved away from cattle markets and are switching towards online buying and selling of animals for the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha. 

The prices of goats in the online market range from Rs24,000 to Rs200,000 while the prices of cows range from Rs50,000 to Rs1 million.

While talking to Profit, Shahid Nawaz, a resident of Defence Housing Authority (DHA), said that cattle markets were set up by the government but Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) could not be implemented. 

“Conditions in cattle markets in Lahore are already bad. No proper arrangement for cleanliness or social distancing has been made which makes visiting such markets extremely dangerous under current circumstances,” he said.

“Private meat shops in the city are providing the service of depositing money in advance and collecting the meat of sacrificial animals on the day of Eid. The current situation requires great caution, so we have already booked our animal from a meat shop instead of buying it from the cattle market.”

Khalil Khawar, a resident of Shadman, said that he was added to a WhatsApp group by a friend, for buying and selling sacrificial animals. 

“The WhatsApp group was created by a goat farm house. The group contains details of animal breeds, sizes and their rates. Rates offered in the group seemed reasonable compared to cattle markets so I booked two sacrificial animals from there which will be delivered to my house two days before Eid. However, from the date of booking till the date of delivery I will have to bear the cost of feeding my animals,” he said.

Salman Bakhsh a resident of Shahdara said that every year a cattle market used to be set up near his house from where he would buy sacrificial animals. However, this time he is reluctant to visit the cattle market. 

“Going to the cattle market and buying the animal of your choice is a tradition in our society. However, this time people are scared due to Covid-19. Older people should not go to the cattle markets to buy animals on this Eid. And people who decide to visit such markets should take the needed precaution,” he said. 

“For the last five years the conditions of the cattle markets have not improved much. There is no sanitation, no price control system and the animals are not properly screened. For this Eid, my son contacted some goat dealers through OLX and we got the sacrificial animal from there in a reasonable amount,” Salman Bakhsh added.

On the other hand Kahisf Sheikh, a resident of Gulberg, complained that buying animals online should be done with extreme caution since there is a high probability of fraud in online procurement. 

“I ordered four goats and a cow online. The seller sent pictures of animals that looked very reasonable and the price was not very high. The animals were delivered to my house by the seller but later I found out that three of them were suffering from a disease. Now I am getting them treated by a veterinarian,” he said.

Liaqat Ali, owner of a private goat farm house, believes that due to the lock-down and lack of business, demand for sacrificial animals has been low, which has led to lower prices in the market this year. 

“We have created WhatsApp groups and Facebook pages and we are getting good orders from there. We strive to sell sacrificial animals to the people at standard rates,” he said.

Raiwind Assistant Commissioner Adnan Rashid, while talking to Profit, said that this year cattle markets would not be set up inside Lahore. However, 14 points would be set up outside the city from July 15 from where people will be able to buy sacrificial animals. 

“Cattle markets will be set up while ensuring the implementation of SOPs. Livestock and Dairy Development Department staff will also be present at each point for animal health checks,” he said.

Adnan Rashid said that every year cattle markets used to be set up a month before Eid-ul-Azha, however this time they will be set up 15 days before Eid, which will make them busier compared to previous years.

“This year, sacrificial animal sales points are being set up just 15 days before Eid, which will attract more people and increase prices to a much higher level compared to previous years,” he said.

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