Animal Planet

Tanaji Dhonde had travelled more than 50 kms to buy himself the perfect bull. He needed a strong, young bull who could work on his corn farm. Kikvi, a small village, around 35 kms from Pune offered him the perfect platform. Every Saturday, the village market is teeming with bulls, cows, buffaloes, sheep and goats. Because Saturday is the designated day for the weekly animal market.

Every week, scores of buyers and sellers from all over Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka come here laden with their goods, the animals, in this case, to buy and sell farm animals. As you turn a corner and walk into the dusty grounds of the market, you will be assailed with the smell and sounds of the farm animals. Amidst the hullabaloo Dushyant Nigde, who owns a poultry and a dairy business in Kikvi helps in finalising a deal between a buyer and a seller. "Look, this is a gavran cow," he tells the buyer, "She will give at least seven to eight litres of milk every day," he explains. After a bit of haggling they agree upon Rs 25,000 as the price for the white, solemn-looking cow. Nigde, along with his business also helps buyers and sellers meet and make deals, acting as an unofficial middleman.

Such markets that buy and sell farm animals are held on a weekly basis in and around Pune. Saturdays in the Kikvi market, Mondays in the Saswad market, both around 35 kms from Pune, on Saturdays in the Chakan market and on Sundays in Gultekdi market, Pune.

Dattatray Kalamkar, department head of the Krishi Bazaar Samiti, Pune, says, "The market in Gultekdi sells sheep, goats, cows and buffaloes, mainly. Sometimes, buyers get bulls too. Our basic job is to look over the sales and purchases. We give receipts and ensure that there is no foul play." The animals are judged on many parameters. In case of buffaloes, if she is pregnant, or has given a birth recently, the prices are higher ranging from Rs 30,000 to Rs 60,000. In case of bullocks, the prices depend on their age, physical strength and their "reputation". "This is especially true in case of bulls bought and sold for racing. Their reputation precedes them. So if a winning bull is coming in the market for sale, its price automatically goes up," says Balasaheb Kharade, who works at the Chakan market and is the president of the Animals Merchants Association.

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