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Sales slow at Pakistan Eid holiday market

RAWALPINDI, PAKISTAN (AFP) – Business was quieter than usual at one of Pakistan’s biggest livestock markets yesterday as an economic crunch stopped customers from splashing out on cows, sheep and goats for the Aidiladha 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 on 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.”

A driver loads a customer’s goats in a rickshaw at a livestock market in Islamabad ahead of Aidiladha. PHOTO: AFP

“Prices are very high,” Khurram Taseer, a bank employee, told AFP after splashing out PKR140,000 (around USD700) 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 PKR100,000 to PKR700,000, while goats and sheep fetch between PKR40,000 and PKR100,000.

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.