Government faces a goat problem ahead of DashainImport restrictions and insufficient domestic production mean prices are likely to soar.
Despite government announcement to fulfil the demand for goats in Kathmandu for the upcoming Dashain festival through domestic production, poor supply management, lack of coordination between government offices and livestock traders and import restrictions are likely to dent the plan.
According to the Department of Livestock Services, Kathmandu will witness a demand for 40,000 goats and it will be catered by Nepal Food Corporation bringing in goats from different parts of the country and by trading live goats at subsidised rates.
But with less than a month remaining for the festivals, stakeholders are divided over whether livestock traders are ready to sell goats at the government set prices when they can seek higher profits through independent trade.
Yogendra Gauchan, director general at the Department of Commerce, Supply and Consumer Protection Management said that the government is discussing with traders to ease the supply chain issues but traders are adamant on selling the goats themselves rather than opting for government channels.
“Profit-seeking is at the core of traders’ reluctance to sell the goats to the government,” said Gauchan.
However, officials at the Department of Livestock Services say that despite the issues, goats would not be scarce this Dashain as local production is enough to fulfil the demand.
“Government has been actively working to collect goats from different parts of the country,” Banshi Sharma, director-general of the Department of Livestock Services said. “Livestock traders must cooperate with the government to ease the supply.”
Data from the Department of Customs show that the country imported 100,155 goats worth Rs 771 million in the two months from Mid-August to Mid-September during Dashain last year from India. The imports figure during the period accounted for one-fourth of annual imports.
However, imports have fallen to nil this year after the government made it mandatory for traders to produce quarantine certificates while importing livestock from the southern neighbour.
Indian authorities have also made it compulsory to obtain the certificate before exporting livestock to Nepal after the Department of Livestock Services issued the rule for importers.
Given that, goat traders say that in the present situation, Kathmandu is likely to see a shortage of goats.
“The demand for goats is estimated between 40000-45000 while the domestic production will only suffice to fulfil less than half of the total estimated demand,” said Bhanu Bhakta Parajuli, president of Livestock Traders Service Association. “We still are unclear how the government can meet its lofty announcement.”
As per statistics of the Nepal Livestock Traders’ Association, more than 55,000 goats were traded in Kathmandu during the festivals last year.
Deepak Thapa, former president of Nepal Livestock Entrepreneurs Association said that local production can only fulfil 60 percent of the demand and the remaining used to be fulfilled through imports.
The supply-side inefficiencies and import restrictions are also expected to hit the consumers hard as traders say prices could escalate during this years’ festival.
Traders said that the price per kilogram of live goats could reach up to Rs 800 during Dashain and could possibly rise higher if supply inefficiencies remain. Last year, live goats were traded at Rs 550 per kilogram during the festivals.
Additionally, import restrictions have motivated traders to opt for illegal routes to haul in live goats to Nepal.
According to Thapa, with strict enforcement of quarantine rule, some traders have taken advantage of an open border and alternative routes to smuggle goats into the country.
“An average of 350 goats are hauled in through illegal channels at present,” said Thapa. “Traders have falsified documents and are selling such goats as local produce.”
At present, the Valley witnesses supply of goats from Surkhet, Bardiya, Nepalgunj, Salyan, Jajarkot, Rukum, Katari and the neighbouring districts of Makwanpur, Nuwakot and Dhading districts.