Increase in meat prices in Daraa; smuggling sheep one of reasons

A lamb slaughterhouse in the western countryside of Daraa - January 28, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Halim Muhammad)

A lamb slaughterhouse in the western countryside of Daraa - January 28, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Halim Muhammad)

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Daraa – Halim Muhammad

Red meat prices in the southern city of Daraa witnessed a significant increase in conjunction with a similar rise in the prices of chicken and fish.

The price of a kilo of lamb reached 75,000 Syrian pounds, and the price of a kilo of veal reached 60,000 Syrian pounds, while some residents buy female sheep meat due to its low price (50,000 Syrian pounds). ​​($1=8300 SYP)

The crisis of high meat prices is added to the rest of the crises suffered by Syrians living in areas controlled by the Syrian regime in light of an economic crisis affecting all sectors of the country.

High prices affect chicken and fish

The rise in the price of meat did not depend on red meat only, as the price of live chicken reached 25,000 Syrian pounds, a kilo of thigh 30,000, a kilo of breast 31,000, a kilo of liver 36,000, and “Shish” to 40,000, while the price of a kilo Fish to 23,000 pounds.

Ali Ali, 45, from the countryside of Daraa, told Enab Baladi that he previously used to buy meat in kilograms, while he currently only buys 200 grams after the meat prices exceeded his purchasing power.

The same applies to Ali about chicken meat, as he now buys it by the “piece,” which is a new matter for him after the price hike.

Low demand for meat

Qassem, who works as a butcher in rural Daraa, told Enab Baladi that the demand for meat during the month of Ramadan is weak compared to previous years and that most residents buy small quantities.

The butcher attributed the reasons for the high prices to the difficulty in finding livestock for slaughter, as the movement of exporting them outside the governorate raised their price, as well as the breeders’ refusal to sell played a role in the high prices.

Livestock breeders in Daraa benefited from the high prices of meat, as the price of a kilo of live lamb reached 30,000 Syrian pounds, while its price did not exceed 11,000 pounds in 2022.

Qusai, 30, a sheep breeder in rural Daraa, told Enab Baladi that the reasons for the high prices are due to the lack of pastureland as a result of the late rains, in addition to the insistence of some breeders not to sell sheep for fattening for sacrificial animals, as the demand for them will increase during the coming period.

Moataz al-Sawah, head of the Sheep Breeders and Exporters Committee in the Federation of Chambers of Agriculture, told al-Watan newspaper on March 9 that the export of sheep (Awassi) is suspended until after the month of Ramadan because the month of March is the month of births and to reduce its price for citizens during Ramadan.

Al-Sawah added that lamb prices are unreasonable in the local market, as they should not rise above the price of 50,000 Syrian pounds.

Impact of price hikes and reasons

The economic crisis and the deterioration of the value of the Syrian pound play a role in the rise in the prices of meat of all kinds in Syria, in addition to the decrease in purchasing power in the areas controlled by the Syrian regime, in addition to other reasons.

Manaf Quman, an economic researcher at the Omran Center for Strategic Studies, told Enab Baladi that the rise in meat prices during the past period is due to the price discrepancy between Syria and neighboring regions due to the depreciation of the Syrian pound and the adoption of an ineffective monetary policy by the Syrian Central Bank.

Quman added, in his answer to Enab Baladi’s questions, that the rise in prices is linked to the rise in inflation rates and the continuation of smuggling operations across the borders with Lebanon and Iraq for calves and sheep.

The secretary of the Butchers Association, Mahmoud Hayek, told the government newspaper Tishreen on March 29 that hundreds of calves are smuggled every week to Iraq and Lebanon under the name of a “customs declaration,” which is granted by official bodies in the government of the Syrian regime.

Hayek added that the livestock is transported to Homs governorate, and from there, they are smuggled to neighboring countries in full trailers.

Hayek explained that despite the high prices in Syria, they are cheaper than in neighboring countries, as the price of a sheep in Syria is $200, while it reaches $400 in Lebanon, and the price of a calf in Damascus is $1,000, while it is $1,500 in Beirut.

According to Quman, these reasons lead to a shortage of meat in the local markets and its high price. On the other hand, there are irrational policies that are being followed, as is the case in Daraa, as the people depend on slaughtering female livestock due to its low price, which causes the depletion of livestock in the region.

Quman pointed out that the high price of meat will reduce its consumption and limit it to a specific group of society with high incomes, and the population will resort to replacing other materials with meat.

Syria ranked 18th out of 117 countries in the worker poverty rate index, according to the classification of the International Labor Organization (ILO) in 2022. Labor productivity in Syria was ranked 149th out of 185 countries, which indicates poor productivity.

On March 14, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) said that the average monthly wage in Syria currently only covers about a quarter of a family’s food needs and that around 12.1 million people in Syria, more than half of the population, are food insecure.

A statement by the UN program stated that Syria is among the six countries with the highest rates of food insecurity in the world, and there are another 2.9 million people at risk of food insecurity.

In mid-2022, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP) issued a report that placed Syria as one of the 20 hotspots of hunger in the world.

 

 

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