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EghtesadOnline: The smuggling of livestock from West Azarbaijan cities of Oshnavieh and Piranshahr to Sulaymaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan is on the rise, says Ali Asghar Maleki, the head of Lamb Producers’ Union.

"At present, a kilogram of live sheep is priced at 400,000 rials [$1.82] in Tehran compared with 900,000 rials [$4.1] in Iraq, which price gap motivates traders to earn more by transferring live animals to the neighboring country despite the risks involved," Tasnim News Agency quoted him as saying. 

Noting that Oshnavieh and Piranshahr are only a short distance away from Sulaymaniyah, Maleki said smuggling of domestic livestock out of the western borders of the country to Iraq would definitely lead to the shortage of supply and increase the prices of livestock and red meat in the coming months.   

The 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 sector, the head of Iran’s Livestock Exporters National Assembly said recently.

“Latest statistics show the domestic market normally needs around 60 million head of light livestock per year, but currently, it is 12 million above the average needed,” Mansour Pourian was also quoted as saying by IRNA on Sunday.

This has put farmers under immense pressure, making them face a wide range of challenges, including excessive costs, shortage of feed and aging of cattle, he added.

The government banned the export of livestock in the last Iranian year to help increase supply in the domestic market. However, excessive imports amid a hike in domestic production, as well as 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 to resolve 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 problems 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.

Consumption of red meat has seen around 60% decline following the outbreak of the new coronavirus and shutdown of restaurants and ceremony halls, said the head of Iran’s Livestock Exporters National Assembly recently.

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, the deputy agriculture minister for livestock affairs said.

“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 on imports. 

“To fulfill the production deficit, up to 160,000 tons of red meat are annually imported,” he said, underlining that measures are underway to cut the dependency on imports and boost the production capacity and productivity. 


Iraqi Kurdistan West Azarbaijan Livestock Sulaymaniyah Piranshahr lamb Oshnavieh Ali Asghar Maleki