Goat market bounces back as Dashain festivities nearNepal imported more goats in the first two months of fiscal year 2021-22 than in the whole of the last fiscal 2020-21, officials say.
Livestock markets in Kathmandu Valley are making a jubilant comeback in the run-up to Dashain after restrained celebrations last year dampened sales.
People have been on a goat buying frenzy for the animal sacrifices and feasting that are the highlights of the festival as if to make up for missed merrymaking, traders said.
Nepal imported more goats in the first two months of this fiscal year 2021-22 than in the whole of the last fiscal 2020-21, officials said.
According to the Department of Customs, 12,043 live goats worth Rs108.28 million entered the country during the period mid-July to mid-September. Imports in the whole of the last fiscal year amounted to 13,827 goats valued at Rs107.88 million.
All the animals were imported from India, and most of the shipments went to Kathmandu, according to traders.
Chandra Dhakal, senior livestock officer at the Department of Livestock Services, said 5.4 million goats are supplied in the domestic market for Dashain.
“As per information received from different livestock suppliers in the valley, around 65,000 goats are expected to arrive in Kathmandu for Dashain this year,” said Dhakal.
Dashain demand in Kathmandu amounts to around 60,000 goats. This year, cooperatives and commercial farmers supported by Heifer International Nepal have produced around 200,000 goats, said Dhakal.
The Livestock Traders Service Association has also informed the department that around 60,000 goats will be shipped to the valley—11,000 goats from Province 1, 6,000 from Province 2, 17,500 from Bagmati, 2,500 from Gandaki, 7,500 from Lumbini, 7,000 from Karnali and 9,000 from Sudurpaschim province.
As most of the requirement will be met by domestic production, Dhakal said it was unlikely that prices would rise.
“But if there is no regular monitoring, goat meat prices may increase. Observing the data, demand for goat meat during Dashain has been stable in the last 10 years,” Dhakal said.
Daily demand for goats in the valley, apart from Dashain, is around 1,200 head, as per the department.
The department has deployed 45 veterinary teams that will check the health of the goats in different markets like Kalanki, Tukucha, Balaju, Koteshwor, Sallaghari and Chalnakhel, among others.
According to the department, Kathmandu consumes 500,000 goats annually, Pokhara 120,000, Biratnagar 100,000, Bharatpur 50,000, Birtamod 75,000, Dharan 30,000, Butwal 30,000 and Nepalgunj 40,000.
Janak Kumar Khadka, president of Kalanki Khasi Bazaar, said that due to high demand for goats during Dashain, domestic production falls short of the requirement, and they have to be imported from India. Live goats imported from India will pass through quarantine, he said.
Goat traders will be supplying around 27,000 animals in the market this Dashain. The market supplied around 20,000 goats last year. Since demand exceeded supply, Khadka said they would supply around 7,000 extra goats this time.
Khadka added that prices of live goats had increased by Rs600-700 per kg in the last three-four months. Mutton costs Rs1,400-1,450 per kg retail.
The Dashain festival is two days away, and mutton lust is at an all-time high with tens of thousands of goats coming into the valley in time for Nepalis to prepare for the annual celebration.
Around 10,000 goats are sold daily in Kathmandu from the first day of Dashain to the eighth day, according to the records of the Department of Livestock Services. Total sales during the festival come to around 100,000 animals.
The goats sold in the valley are brought from Taplejung, Sankhuwasabha, Rolpa, Rukum, Mustang, Salyan, Pyuthan, Kailali, Jhapa, Morang, Panchthar, Bara and Khotang, among other districts.
Last year, the celebrations were subdued because of Covid-19 related restrictions, consequently demand fell and imports of goats were down, as per experts.
State-owned Food Management and Trading Company is planning to bring around 2,000 goats from Hetauda and Dang.
The country produces 552,000 tonnes of meat annually worth Rs150 billion, the department said.
As per the World Health Organisation, annual consumption of 14 kg of meat per person is standard as per the requirement.
Dhakal said that 398,000 tonnes of meat was imported in the last fiscal year, including live goats and processed meat, which is 0.07 percent of the total requirement. A negligible quantity of meat is imported, and the country’s own production fulfills 99 percent of demand.
Imports have declined in recent years after the government provisioned health certificates for live goats and imposed a 10 percent customs duty.
The country has been producing 10.40 million goats annually. Domestic production has increased significantly in the last five years while imports have been declining gradually.
Based on current market prices, Nepal's annual meat, egg, fish and milk output is valued at Rs450 billion, as per the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development. The country produces meat worth Rs275 billion, milk worth Rs122 billion, fish worth Rs37 billion and eggs worth Rs17 billion per year.