Goat traders expect a sales bonanza this Dashain after business went flat last year as supplies were disrupted by an Indian embargo, and a country shell-shocked by a killer quake toned down celebrations.
The mood, however, is upbeat this year with 65,000 goats, mountain goats and sheep slated to arrive in the Kathmandu Valley to be slaughtered for the festival.
There are no official figures of the animals and fowl that are sacrificed during the 15-day Dashain festivities, but traders estimate that animals worth Rs1 billion are sold in the valley alone. Buffalos, goats, chickens and ducks running into hundreds of thousands are killed across the country to appease Goddess Durga and provide meat for the extended feasting.
The trade embargo in September last year triggered severe fuel shortage on the eve of the Dashain festival which seriously affected transportation of goats to Kathmandu, the country’s biggest market.
Besides, the entire country was in a sombre mood due to the April 25 earthquake last year that killed nearly 9,000 and left millions homeless.
“This year, the business outlook is quite optimistic. People have started visiting the market to buy goats and sheep a week ago before the ceremony of Ghatasthapana which occurs next Saturday,” said Deepak Thapa, president of the Nepal Livestock Traders Association.
“On Thursday, more than 5,000 he-goats and mountain goats were supplied in the valley,” said Thapa. “There will be massive buying of animals from Saturday onwards.”
According to Thapa, sales of goats had dwindled to around 40,000 in the valley last year. “We expect demand to jump to 60,000 to 65,000 goats during the 15 days of the festival given the normal environment.” He said that more than 10,000 mountain goats would be shipped to the Kathmandu valley and Pokhara from Mustang this festival.
State-owned Nepal Food Corporation (NFC) has said it will supply 3,000 animals and private traders will deliver the rest. There are around 400 traders dealing in goats in the main markets of the valley.
NFC supplies a small quantity of goats, and the move is directed more at intervening in the market to keep prices stable than fulfilling the total requirement.
Around 80 percent of Nepal’s requirement of goats is fulfilled by Indian suppliers. Indian goats are mostly imported from Lucknow, Haridwar and Rajasthan.
According to the Department of Customs, the live animal import bill came to Rs3.05 billion in the last fiscal year. Of the total imports, 479,134 live goats worth Rs2.64 billion were imported from India alone.
As there will be an adequate number of goats to fulfil demand, prices are expected to remain at normal levels, said Thapa. Currently, live goats cost Rs460 to Rs465 per kg in the market. “We have estimated that prices will not cross Rs500 per kg even during peak days,” said Thapa.
In 2014, prices of live goats that cost Rs390 per kg before Dashain surged to Rs470 per kg after the start of the festival. The market sees a massive rise in meat prices after Ghatasthapana as traders usually seek to make a killing during the festive rush.
This year, the government has imposed a price ceiling for chicken and goat meat in the Kathmandu Valley in a bid to prevent possible price hikes during the festival.
The government has forbidden meat shops to charge more than Rs285 and Rs850 per kg for chicken and goat meat respectively. This is the first time the authorities have fixed a ceiling on retail prices of meat. The ceiling will remain in effect until the Chhath festival which is held three weeks after Dashain.
The country’s meat production grew a marginal 0.89 percent to 301,000 tonnes in the last fiscal year, according to the Ministry of Agricultural Development.
Source: The Kathmandu Post