Srinagar, May 22 : Leather entrepreneurs in the Kashmir Valley are a happy lot these days, as the rawhide business is experiencing a boom.
Engaged in the rawhide business since generations and living in the downtown Srinagar localities of Jamalatta and Nawa Bazaar, they constitute a very small number of people.
They said that the daily turnover figures are a statistical evidence of the profitability of their business.
According to Mehrajuddin Kawa, the President of the Raw Hide Traders Association, the annual overall turnover in this business is worth millions of rupees.
"If we talk about Kashmir Valley only, then at least 200-250 families are involved in this business, and that means at east 1,000 people are involved in it. The price of raw hide of sheep and goat that is being transported to other cities in the country per annum is about 200,000," Kawa claimed.
Rawhide dealers collect hides of various animals like sheep, goat, and cattle mostly from abattoirs in Srinagar and also from villages.
Raw hides are tanned with a coat of non-iodised salt and other materials at various storage points from where they are segregated and transported to various places outside Kashmir.
And not only those engaged in the raw hides business directly are reaping the benefits but also those ranging from the salt merchants to the transporters, everybody in the valley is banking the profits.
"The rates of Kashmiri hide are different and the hide that is available in Delhi, its rates are different. It is of two types, hide of male and hide of female. The rates of hides of both male and female are different. The rates of the hide of goat are different. A number of young people like me are involved in this business," said Manzoor Ahmad, a rawhide dealer.
Around three million pieces of rawhide are transported to different tanneries and leather factories in Delhi, Kanpur, Agra and Chennai where various leather products like jackets, boots, wallets, purses and belts are designed and made.
Of course, voracious meat-eating habit of the people in the valley plays a key role in the regular supply of huge number of raw hides. Kashmir valley boasts of maximum ratio of non-vegetarians in India.
Consequently, the rawhide traders in the valley are also reaping it rich.