Centering the market of different cattle slaughtering tools including knives, machetes and choppers before the upcoming Holy Eid-ul-Azha, blacksmiths in 13 upazilas of Kishoreganj district are now spending busy times in making the items.
According to sources, the blacksmiths profession was very profitable four to five decades ago when there was tremendous demand for iron and steel-made tools including sharp edged ploughs spikes on the wheels of cattle-driven cart, knives, sickles, choppers and others such tools.
But nowadays, due to introduction of mechanical ploughs, tractors or power tillers, machanised vehicles and machine-driven harvesters, the use of those age old iron or steel tools have been obliterated. As a result, thousands of blacksmiths who used to earn their livelihood by making those indigenous tools for centuries are now switching to other professions.
According to Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), Kishoreganj office and other sources, there were over 600 blacksmiths in the district 30-40 years ago but now their number has come down to around 300.
Blacksmiths Habib Miah and Abdul Mannan at Katiarchar under Kishoreganj Sadar upazila said only this time in the year the demand of their products increases centering Eid-ul-Azha. Blacksmiths make indispensable household and agricultural appliances like chopper, knife, axe, chisel, crowbar, hammer, saw, cleave, spade, yoke, shovel, blade, hook, punch, mallet, nail, hoe, sickle, pickaxe etc. to meet the people's demand, they added. While visiting a densely populated areas in Newtown-Barabazar, Morug Mohal-Binnagoan and Kacharibazar under Kishoreganj Sadar upazila. This correspondent found that the blacksmiths were passing busy moments in making and selling their products. Swapon Karmokar, a 50-years old blacksmith of the area said, "We remain workless around months in the year but on the arrival of Eid-ul-Azha we become busy."
Blacksmith Ajoy Karmokar of Kamarpara area under Hossainpur upazila said that bank loan on easy term might help them make more iron-made goods for marketing in various haats, bazars and fairs.
Anil Kumer Karmoker, a blacksmith from Kuliarchar upazila said, a decline in the demand of their products, lack of skilled craftsmen, high prices of raw materials like charcoal, files, cast-iron, steel and other inputs hiked the production cost making their profession a tough one.
However the scenario of Blacksmith shops during the Eid-ul-Azha changed though most of them remained almost jobless during other months. Centering the Eid, they remain extremely busy in making knives, chopper and other tools at their smithies.
At the same time the knife sharpeners are seen to move from door to door to sharpen knives and other cutting tools such hastiness of the blacksmith and the knife sharpeners will continue till the night before the Eid-ul-Azha.