With Id ul-Adha less than a month away, five alumni of the Aligarh Muslim University have come together to launch an online platform to facilitate the sale of goats during the pandemic. “It is an attempt to create an online marketplace to help goat farmers in the Moradabad division,” said Khalid Raza, who has designed the website.
A postgraduate in social work, Mr. Raza said the COVID-19 pandemic had made it difficult to hold local animal markets.
Another postgraduate Masood Ul Hasan said, “Many of the farmers in the region sell their goats in the local animal markets. The heavier and special ones are transported and sold in Delhi and Mumbai. But the lockdown and fear of infection had made it difficult this year. So, they were looking for options to sell the goats in the neighbouring districts. The website would help farmers in reaching customers from the safety of their homes.”
Mr. Raza said there were similar websites but most of them catered to only metros and big cities. “Netlivestock.com aims at tapping the rural and semi-urban areas and combines the government’s policies of empowering local farmers and making India digital.”
Pictures of the goats on sale are features on the website. “The beauty and health of the animal play an important role in selection. In Islamic practice, you need to develop affection with the animal you intend to sacrifice. The shape of horns and the size of ears also matter. Goats with certain patterns, which are considered auspicious, on their body fetch a higher price, irrespective of their weight. The goat should have attained the age of one at the time of sacrifice. This can be easily ascertained by checking its teeth. By one, a goat develops two front permanent teeth. We put photos and videos so that customers can check online. The existing websites don’t have such features,” said Mr. Raza.
The website provides the option to customers to visit the village or ask the goat to be delivered at their doorstep. “We have appointed sahayaks (helpers) in villages who help the farmers in cracking the deal. The price ranges between ₹10,000 to ₹80,000 depending on weight and other factors. The local breeds are heavy and not everybody can afford them. So, the farmer is getting a less price in comparison to previous years but at least he is getting something,” he said.
Mohd Jahanagir of Gularia village, one of the farmers associated with the website, said it was not like the real marketplace. “There, you get a higher price because there is competitive bidding and as there are many customers, you can stick to your price. Here the customer bargains a lot and we have to pay some commission to the website as well.”
But in the present situation, he added, he was not complaining. “The paperwork and chai pani [bribe] required to cross district and state borders are much more painful during the lockdown.”
Mr. Raza said one of the farmers had struck a deal of ₹80,000 for an all-white goat with a Mumbai customer. “But when he realised he would not be able to send it, he agreed to sell it on the website for ₹50,000.”
On animal activists and right-wing politicians protesting against the practice of sacrifice on Id, he said as per the current law, it was legal to sell goats for sacrifice. “Also, the annual sale helps goat farmers earn some extra money during the festival which helps them meet their expenses. The customer is Muslim, but the goat farmers hail from different religions. Some Hindu goat farmers are associated with us as well.”
Mr. Hasan said if the experiment proved successful, they would extend it to the sale of milch buffaloes as well. “We have decided to divide our commission into six parts, the sixth being for charity, which we will spend on improving the situation of farmers,” said Mr. Raza.