Online marketplaces for cattle ahead of Eid-ul-Azha have gained some traction in Bangladesh, but high prices are turning away the potential customers, bdnews24.com reports.
For many, the joy of buying sacrificial animals in person or visiting the markets in groups is amiss online. Some do not want to deprive themselves of the fun of bargains.
Many people share sacrificial animals and prefer to go to the markets together amid fanfare. However, there is a fear of coronavirus transmission this time among the buyers.
Meanwhile, traders have assured online buyers of fair prices. People are anxious about the prices as they are not used to buying cattle online by looking at pictures or videos.
About one-fifth of all sacrificial animals in the country are sold in Dhaka during Eid-ul-Azha, according to sellers. Their main target is to attract buyers in big cities.
Traders have ratcheted up online advertisements to attract buyers. Mixed reactions surfaced on Facebook regarding the prices of sacrificial animals on these websites.
Md Ariful shared a post on Facebook regarding the Tk 60,000 price tag of a cow.
"This cow will cost me Tk 30,000 in the market, and so I will purchase from there."
One Humayun Kabir Rahat said, "How come the price of this cow comes to Tk 70,000? You think I am stupid?"
Many more people on Facebook reacted angrily to the high prices of cattle.
However, Abdul Waheed Tamal, general secretary of the E-Commerce Association of Bangladesh, denied the allegations.
"There is no chance of raising the prices. E-commerce sites have taken the initiative to sell cows at meager profits margins," he told the news agency.
Eight e-commerce companies have started selling animals in the recently launched Digital Haat, an online marketplace for sacrificial animals, but 50 more will follow soon, he said.
"Buyers can rest assured of health protocols. There is no chance of being cheated here."
Digital Haat launched on July 11 was initiated by Dhaka North City Corporation, the ICT Division of the government, E-Cab and Bangladesh Dairy Farm Association.
The ICT Division has also come up with an online platform, Food for Nation, for the trading of sacrificial animals.
The online marketplace has started registering cattle farmers and livestock traders from all across the country. Farmers and traders will be able to register for free. The website allows buyers to speak with sellers over the phone directly.
Shariful Islam of Bunar Ataikula Union has so far posted three pictures of cows on the website. However, he has not received any orders yet. There is also no response in the local market this time.
"Traders are afraid of going to Dhaka and sell cows. Many people are visiting the digital centre with pictures of cows. Shoppers can easily buy cows on this platform by speaking directly with sellers."
State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak said: "This initiative aims to prevent the spread of the coronavirus by establishing online communication between buyers and sellers. The interest of online shoppers is increasing."
Regarding the allegation of high prices online, Palak said, "We have to make a habit here. Traders have been told not to quote unreasonable prices or else they will not get any buyers."
Traders or farmers are being encouraged to sell online through 11,000 digital centres across the country, said Palak, adding the Food for Nation platform is going to be the largest matchmaking digital market for sacrificial animals in the country.
Mohammad Imran Hossain, president of the Bangladesh Dairy Farm Association, said leaders of the organisation in districts or upazilas will go to remote areas and help out farmers as many do not have smartphones.
"Farmers have been asked to collect certificates from the Upazila Animal Resources Office so that buyers do not get cheated during online purchases. Buyers will be assured if sellers provide them with certificates."