EghtesadOnline: Iran’s red meat production is projected to rise by 2-3% by the end of the current fiscal year (March 2021), bringing the country closer to self-sufficiency, says the deputy agriculture minister for livestock affairs.
“Iran’s red meat production stood at 859,000 tons last [fiscal] year [ended March 19, 2020]. The output is expected to hit 880,000 tons by the yearend,” Morteza Rezaei was also quoted as saying by IRNA.
According to the official, heavy livestock constituted around 60% of the country’s red meat production last year.
The deputy minister noted that the increase in red meat production will be a positive step toward achieving self-sufficiency and cutting down imports.
“To fulfill the production deficit, up to 160,000 tons of red meat are imported annually,” he said, stressing that measures are underway to cut import dependency and boost production capacity.
To this end, 158 projects for boosting livestock and poultry breeding will be implemented by the Iranian yearend, which will also help create around 16,000 jobs.
Efforts will also be made to expand the existing capacities and control the waste of feed in livestock breeding farms.
Rezaei further said Iran has surpassed the domestic need for milk and dairy products.
Last year, around 11 million tons of dairy products were produced, 95% of which came from heavy livestock.
“Excessive production of livestock over the past few months, combined with a significant decline in red meat consumption due to the coronavirus pandemic, has led to a massive surplus in the cattle farming sector,” the head of Iran’s Livestock Exporters National Assembly said recently.
“Latest statistics show the domestic market normally demands around 60 million head of light livestock per year, but currently, it is overflowed with 12 million above the average,” Mansour Pourian was also quoted as saying by IRNA on Sunday.
The official noted that this has put farmers under immense pressure, making them face a wide range of challenges, including excessive costs, shortage of feed and aging of their cattle.
The government banned the exports of livestock in the last Iranian year to help increase supply in the domestic market. However, excessive imports amid the hike in domestic production and the huge fall in consumption created the current problem.
Calling on the government to lift the ban on exports, Pourian said “unconditional exports” will be the key in this critical situation to prevent any further losses.
In case the trend is not dealt with properly, Pourian said thousands of farmers will go bankrupt and the country will face severe challenges in the red meat market next year.
Ahmad Moqaddasi, the head of Cattle Farmers Association, said in April that there is a surplus of 200,000 beef cattle ready to head for Iran's industrial-scale slaughterhouses, but the decline in consumption due to the pandemic has hampered the process.
A total of 30,900 tons of red meat were produced in Iran during the month to May 20 to register a 23% rise compared to the similar month of the year before.
The Statistical Center of Iran's latest report shows beef accounted for 17,200 tons or 55.7% of the overall production, indicating a year-on-year increase of 29%.
Moreover, 11,000 tons of lamb (up 17% YOY), 2,100 tons of goat meat (up 17% YOY) and 552 tons of meat from other types of livestock were produced during the one-month period, accounting for 35.7%, 6.8% and 1.8% of the total output respectively, SCI reported on its website.
The output witnessed a 41% month-on-month growth.
The top 10 red meat producing provinces in Iran are Khorasan Razavi, Fars, East Azarbaijan, Mazandaran, West Azarbaijan, Isfahan, Khuzestan, Tehran, Ardabil and Hamedan.
Imports are made from Commonwealth of Independent States as well as Brazil and Australia.
Before the coronavirus, 90% of domestic demand for red meat were supplied domestically.
“Consumption of red meat has seen a 60% decline following the outbreak of the new coronavirus and shutdown of restaurants and ceremony halls among others,” Pourian said recently.