EghtesadOnline: A total of 45,074 tons of red meat were produced in official slaughterhouses during the month ending April 20 to register a 106% rise compared with the similar month of last year.
Meat output witnessed an 8% decline month-on-month.
The Statistical Center of Iran's latest report shows beef accounted for 26,535 tons or 58.9% of the overall production, indicating a year-on-year increase of 118%.
A total of 15,128 tons of lamb (up 91% YOY), 2,474 tons of goat meat (up 74% YOY) and 937 tons of meat from other types of livestock were produced during the month, accounting for 33.5%, 5.5% and 2.1% of the total output respectively, SCI reported on its website.
Domestic red meat consumption has considerably declined since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on livestock breeders and nomadic livelihood.
The decline in red meat consumption has inflicted the most losses on nomads and their economic condition, which largely depend on animal husbandry, the caretaker of Nomadic Affairs Organization affiliated with the Agriculture Ministry said recently.
“Limitations placed on social events and gatherings due to the pandemic resulted in the cancellation of weddings, funerals and religious ceremonies. Most restaurants either closed down or have very few customers and delivery requests, which has in turn reduced red meat consumption,” Shahpour Alaei Moqaddam was also quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
The official noted that under the circumstances, nomadic tribes are facing an oversupply of livestock, which threatens their livelihood.
According to the former head of Nomadic Affairs Organization, Karamali Qandali, nomads own more than 9.5 million head of livestock and produce 190,000 tons of red meat per year, which meet 25% of domestic demand.
There are 213,000 nomadic households in Iran, which account for 1.2 million of Iran’s total population.
Nomadic production of red meat accounts for about a quarter of Iran’s total output.
According to Morteza Rezaei, deputy agriculture minister for livestock affairs, up to 160,000 tons of red meat are annually imported.
“The absence of effective demand on the part of consumers and imbalance between production costs and purchase prices have caused economic hardship to livestock farmers,” says Hossein Nemati, the head of Union of Iran Animal Farmers.
“The constant increase in the prices of livestock and poultry feed is burdening livestock breeders. Under the circumstances, the limiting pastures’ forage output due to drought has made production even harder and less sustainable,” he was quoted as saying by ILNA.
“Farmers of lightweight and native livestock breeds have fallen victim to the current situation in particular, because their share from government-subsidized feed is small and they rely upon pastures to provide a significant part of their animal feed resources.”
The official noted that under economic strain, farmers opt for depopulating their lightweight or heavyweight livestock.
Nemati believes that the supply of alternative animal feed ingredients such as hay might change farmers’ culling decisions, “but they will need financial assistance, may be through the government’s cheap loan scheme, as livestock depopulating would pose a major threat to meat supply.”
In related news, upon the order of National Coronavirus Headquarters, nomadic migration from their winter to summer settlements has to take place via vehicles this year, in order to prevent the tribes from contacting the Covid-19 virus, according to the head of Nomad Affairs Organization affiliated with the Agriculture Ministry.
“This will cost the government some 650 billion rials [more than $2.76 million],” Shapour Alaei-Moqaddam was also quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
“Nomadic tribes have close to 21 million light and 1.2 million heavy livestock,” he said, adding that only five cases of Covid-19 have been reported among the nomads since the outbreak of the pandemic more than a year ago.