The huge economic potential from head skins of sacrificial animals has been being dumped away after this Eid-ul-Adha as the Savar tannery estate lacks enough space and manpower to process the huge inflow of rawhide after the festival.
"We could have collected and processed all the head skins available after the Eid. But we don't have our own place – all the tanneries are busy at this time and are not giving us space," Mizanur Rahman, the owner of Shobhan Leather, told The Business Standard.
On average, 2.2 to 2.5 square feet of usable skin is available from each piece of head, he said.
Once tanneries used to export head skin leather for $1.8, said Mainuddin, general secretary of Bangladesh Leather and Leather Goods Manufacturers Society told TBS.
Later, the leather's price fell in the international market, but the demand increased in the domestic market, he added.
"When the leather industry shifted to Savar in 2017, we were supposed to be provided with working space," Mainuddin mentioned.
"However, we are yet to get the space, for which, a large number of cow heads are not collected and processed after Eid." he said.
If they were given a space in the estate, Mainuddin said, they could've set up a dedicated tannery to process these head skin leathers.
"Our call to provide space in Savar estate for manufacturers of by-products has not been heard," said Mizanur Rahman, vice chairman of Bangladesh Tanners Association.
Plots are allotted only to those who have tanneries, so an important part of the industry is left out, he stated.
Regarding why tanneries in the estate are not exporting head skins, Mizanur Rahman said the traders no longer find exports viable for business and have no choice but to throw heads away.
There is a good demand for head skin leather in the market. For instance, People's Footwear and Leather Goods Limited last year produced about 20,000 pairs of leather sandals using 40,000 square feet of leather from head skins, which the company had bought for Tk105 per square foot.
Around 45.81 lakh cows and 1.07 lakh buffaloes have been sacrificed in the country this year, according to the Department of Livestock Services.
As such, if 70% of those sacrificed animals' heads were collected, it would have been possible to obtain 65.6 lakh square feet of usable skin which would have had a value of at least Tk52.4 crore in the domestic market after processing.
Mustak Ahmed, deputy secretary of the Industries Ministry, told TBS that they have a plan to expand the tannery estate by acquiring another 200 acres of land.
"Once it is completed, we have a plan to bring the small stakeholders of the industry, especially those who make by-products. They will have opportunities to work there," he said.