Livestock small numbers, export to Iraq raise meat prices in Idlib

The prices of meat in Idlib have reached unprecedented amounts – January 10, 2024 (Enab Baladi/Anas al-Khouli)

The prices of meat in Idlib have reached unprecedented amounts – January 10, 2024 (Enab Baladi/Anas al-Khouli)


Enab Baladi – Anas al-Khouli

Butcher Ali al-Qasim laments the decline in people’s interest in buying lamb meat as customers turn to purchasing white meat, especially chicken, following the soaring prices of red meat to unprecedented levels in Idlib.

Al-Qasim, who owns a shop in the city of Idlib, stated that he used to rely on selling female sheep meat due to the demand for it by citizens as its price is lower than lamb meat, enabling low-income individuals to purchase small quantities.

He told Enab Baladi that a large portion of the locals have refrained from purchasing meat for a while due to their financial inability.

The price per kilogram of lamb meat is 340 Turkish lira, while female sheep meat is priced at 320 lira, and calf meat ranges from 210 to 270 Turkish lira per kilogram.

The price hike has pushed the commodity away from a wide segment of the population amid dire living and economic conditions, instilling fears among butchers of being forced to leave the profession.

Prior to the recent increase, the prices of red meat were originally high and out of reach for the locals, with the daily wage not exceeding 60 to 100 Turkish lira (each US dollar is equivalent to 29.5 Turkish lira).

In the past years, the number of sheep in Idlib has declined due to the scarcity of pastures, increased prices of fodder, and the emigration of livestock owners from this profession in search of alternative sources of income.

The indiscriminate slaughter of female sheep has led to a decrease in their numbers without compensation, resulting in a reduced supply and increased prices. Additionally, the export of sheep from the eastern regions of Syria to Iraq has also contributed to the price hike.

Livestock prices surge

The prices of ewes (female sheep) in Idlib have risen by 30%, while the price of lamb has increased by 20%, prompting farmers and livestock breeders to refrain from slaughtering ewes and selling them to butchers in hopes of benefiting from the females in cattle breeding and achieving additional profits.

Omar Jahjah, the owner of the “Itma’in” company for livestock breeding and meat distribution, attributed the reasons for the surge in meat prices in Idlib primarily to the decline in the numbers of sheep in the region and the scarcity of supply, as well as the increased prices of meat in the eastern regions of Syria, which meat traders relied on to supply large quantities to the region.

Jahjah also stated that the reasons for the increase in meat prices in Manbij, rural Aleppo where the Autonomous Administration is in control, are due to allowing the export from Manbij and the eastern regions to Erbil in Iraq, which also led to price hikes in the eastern areas as well.

The merchant clarified that the future increase in meat prices would benefit the region as it has encouraged farmers to refrain from slaughtering female sheep in order to increase the number of livestock.

The prices of meat in Idlib have reached unprecedented amounts – January 10, 2024 (Enab Baladi/Anas al-Khouli)

The prices of meat in Idlib have reached unprecedented amounts – January 10, 2024 (Enab Baladi/Anas al-Khouli)

Policies and promises

The Syrian Salvation Government (SSG) operating in Idlib has issued several decisions to ban the slaughter and sale of female sheep in markets, although these decisions have not completely stopped the slaughter but rather reduced the scale of the problem, as documented by Enab Baladi.

Dr. Abdel-Hay al-Youssef, Head of the Animal Health Department at the Ministry of Agriculture of the Salvation Government, told Enab Baladi that the ministry is working in the first quarter of this year to launch a number of projects aimed at preserving and protecting the livestock, including the artificial insemination project to increase the number of cows in the region in order to improve local breeds.

He also added that the plans include continuing to provide free vaccines to protect cattle from infectious diseases, such as the foot and mouth disease vaccine and the lumpy skin disease vaccine, in addition to launching a campaign against sheep pox while monitoring the control of veterinary drugs to ensure their quality and effectiveness as well as the quality of animal feed.

Dr. al-Youssef pointed out that the ministry, in cooperation and coordination with organizations working in this field, has managed to secure 1500 tons of animal feed, which is currently being distributed with the aim of encouraging livestock breeders to retain their livestock and not abandon the profession.

He explained that the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation organizes annual statistics for livestock and then collects and analyzes the data. If there is a need to introduce sheep, they are imported according to certificates and quarantine procedures, and the number that meets the market’s needs is introduced.

For his part, the Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Economy and Resources, Hamdo al-Jasim, stated that the ministry is working to control the random slaughter of sheep by unifying the slaughter in slaughterhouses, as well as employing specialized veterinarians in all slaughterhouses. The supply control also conducts daily patrols on butcher shops to control any case of random slaughter and take necessary measures.

Al-Jasim mentioned that the rise in the prices of red meat is due to several reasons, including the Autonomous Administration’s prohibiting of the export of livestock towards the Idlib areas, in addition to the deterioration of the Turkish lira value and the high cost of animal feed during the previous period, which caused a shortage in the number of livestock in the previous years as a result of slaughter and the abandonment of breeding.

Al-Jasim pointed out that the decrease in the prices of animal feed has led livestock breeders to hold onto their herds and raise them instead of slaughtering them, which has reduced the supply in the market and led to an increase in prices. He also mentioned the efforts of the Ministry of Economy and Resources to secure quantities of livestock from northeastern Syria after opening the field of import to achieve balance in the local market.


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