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EghtesadOnline: The Agriculture Ministry has agreed to the export of 500,000 head of livestock owned by Iranian nomadic tribes, according to CEO of the Nomadic Cooperative Association of Livestock Farmers.

“This year, due to low precipitation levels and drought in our pastures and meadows, we are facing a shortage of fodder to feed the livestock. We initially proposed that one million head of livestock be exported so that the revenues could be used to import fodder and animal feed, but the Agriculture Ministry only agreed with half this volume,” Fazl Khorram was also quoted as saying `by Mehr News Agency.

The official noted that there are currently around 246,000 Iranian nomadic households who own a total of 22.4 million head of livestock, supplying 25-30% of domestic demand for red meat.

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 incurred the most damage on nomads and their economy, which is mainly dependent 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 have resulted in the cancellation of weddings, funerals and religious ceremonies, and most restaurants have either closed down or have very few customers and delivery requests, which has in turn reduced red meat consumption,” Shahpour Alaei-Moqaddam was 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 deputy agriculture minister for livestock affairs, Morteza Rezaei, up to 160,000 tons of red meat are annually imported.

Hossein Nemati, the head of Union of Iran Animal Farmers, said the absence of demand and the imbalance between production costs and purchase prices have caused economic hardship to livestock farmers. 

“The constant increase in the prices of livestock and poultry feed is burdening livestock breeders. Under the circumstances, the limited 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 because their share of government-subsidized feed is small and they rely upon pastures to provide a significant part of their animal feed resources.” 

Under the economic strain, farmers opt for depopulating their lightweight or heavyweight livestock, he added.

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 loans. Livestock depopulating would be a major threat to meat supply after all.”

This is while the CEO of State Livestock Logistics Company affiliated with the Agriculture Ministry says livestock feed stored in Iran’s ports of entry are sufficient to meet the needs of the production sector for the next three months.

“There are 4.35 million tons of livestock feed stored in nine customs terminals, while the monthly need of the country is about 1.3-1.7 million tons, so the livestock feeds at ports can supply the needs of the production sector for three months,” Hassan Abbasi Maroufan was quoted as saying by ILNA.

There are 430 companies importing livestock inputs, including corn, barley, meal and soybeans.

"The supply of basic goods is a continuous process and so far import registration for 11 million tons of four types of feeds, namely corn, barley, meal and soybeans, have been placed, which will be imported over time. We are not concerned about the supply of livestock feeds for the next nine months," the official said.

The Central Bank of Iran has already allocated the foreign currency required for imports at subsidized rates. Every month, 1.7 million tons of livestock input are supplied in the market.” 

Last year, a ton of barley in the international market cost about $190, while it is $270 now, Maroufan said, referring to the rise in global prices for livestock feeds, adding that corn was $205 per ton and currently it is $319.

Upon order of the National Coronavirus Headquarters, traveling of nomads from their winter to summer settlements has to take place via vehicles this year, in order to prevent the tribes from contracting the Covid-19 virus.

“This will cost the government about 650 billion rials [$2.76 million],” Alaei-Moqaddam said.

“Only five cases of Covid-19 have been reported among the nomads since the outbreak of the pandemic more than a year ago up until now.”


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