EghtesadOnline: A shipment of imported livestock consisting of 1,000 head of sheep arrived at Arvand Free Trade Zone in the southern Khuzestan Province from Kazakhstan on Monday.
Livestock were earlier imported into Iran for reproduction purposes, but this time it is to regulate the domestic market for lamb meat and offal, which have been experiencing an increase in prices in the domestic market, the head of Iran’s Livestock Provision Council said.
“The plan is to import 6,000 head of sheep from Kazakhstan. The first batch arrived on Monday night and the rest will be imported over the coming days and weeks. Each sheep is priced at around $120, therefore the whole shipment will cost nearly $720,000,” Mansour Pourian also told Financial Tribune.
The official noted that due to fluctuations in red meat prices in the domestic market in recent weeks, the government permitted live sheep imports on May 27 to be slaughtered here in the country and banned the export of livestock (sheep and cow) the following day, Financial Tribune reported.
Imports are allowed in border areas or places with slaughterhouses in the vicinity of ports and airports.
Pourian noted that the ban is flawed since price increases have nothing to do with a shortage of livestock.
"We have at present, around 70 million head of light and 12 million head of heavy livestock in the country, which are in excess of domestic demand. The problem is rooted in the distribution sector, which is dysfunctional and dominated by middlemen who buy the livestock from livestock farmers and offer them at higher prices in livestock distribution centers," he said.
"Unfortunately, the buyers, which are slaughterhouses, and usually traditional ones, have no means to transport the meat to cities and sell them directly to butchers, which are the main distributors of meat to consumers in Iran. Once again intermediaries and dealers come into the picture, sell the meat again at higher prices to butchers who then offer the meat at even higher rates to the end customers.”
Pourian, who also serves as the head of the Livestock Exporters’ National Assembly, said for the same reason, restrictions on exports cannot and will not solve the problem.
The official added that Iran has the capacity to export around $100 million worth of sheep and goats and $70 million worth of heavy livestock.
“Such erroneous policies, which are recurring, are as if we are sanctioning ourselves. This source of income for the country should not be overlooked. We have managed, over the years, to gain a foothold in the livestock markets of countries such as Oman, Iraq, Afghanistan, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Azerbaijan and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Our absence can threaten our good reputation in these markets and we all know how difficult it is to regain such a position,” he said.
Pourian also said Iranians have a taste for the meat of young sheep therefore the bigger ones, which account for close to 70% of the herds, comprise the lion’s share of Iran’s livestock exports.
“These have a lucrative market and are sold at good prices in our export destinations. We should not deprive ourselves of this opportunity. Experience shows that whenever we have fallen short of maintaining our markets, Commonwealth of Independent States and Australia have quickly taken over,” he said.