CHENNAI: “Best quality Hf Cow! 20 litres first lactation expecting!” reads an ad on one of the two largest online classified sites in the country. Alongside a price tag of Rs 99,999, the ad carries a photo of a shiny black cow slurping up its morning meal. Slightly iffy grammar and inflated price notwithstanding, this is merely the tip of the iceberg — rural India is going digital.
Lakhs of such advertisements have begun appearing on sites across the country. OLX, where this ad was found, and Quikr dominate the domestic online classifieds scene and each account for thousands of ads — for cows, buffaloes, goats, sheep, poultry.
Name it and there’s some bloke in the country who wants to sell it to you. So much has been the influx of ads that OLX, Quikr and some other classifieds sites have introduced separate categories for animals. The largest number of ads placed in this category, however, are for pets — dogs, cats, parrots. But a rural economy beginning to get access to and recognise the fruits of digitisation is adopting the heretofore exclusive urban domain and rapidly making it its own. A case in point is OLX. ‘Animals’ is a category that is one of only eleven that OLX offers. Within ‘Animals’ are Dogs, Cats, Birds, Aquarium and Other Animals. While the first four are filled with ads for Pets, the latter has become a hotbed of peer-to-peer cattle trade.
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“I began placing ads to sell and buy cows after my son-in-law’s suggestion,” said Gautam from one of the smaller villages surrounding Tiruchengode in Namakkal district. “He came back to India from overseas (Bahrain) in February and when I told him I wanted to sell the cow but no one around was interested in buying, he asked me to place an online ad. I began getting calls from day one,” he added. Two weeks and three visits from prospective buyers later, he had sold his native breed cow. In the six months that followed, Gautam sold two more milch cows and bought a pregnant one with a calf. He has now placed an ad for two of his calves on OLX.
OLX has over 500 active ads in the Other Animals category at present just from Tamil Nadu. Nearly a third are for Cattle. Another third is for Goats and Sheep. Horses, guinea pigs, hamsters etc make up the rest. Across India, it has more than 7,000. On September 11, 460 such ads were placed on the site. Quikr, while playing host to a slightly lower number of ads, still has a considerable amount of cattle being advertised for.