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Sheep prices shoot up amid high demand
Riyadh, 1st March 2001

More than six million sacrificial animals are expected to be slaughtered in Makkah and other parts of the Kingdom during this Haj and Eid Al-Adha season. The figure includes about 1.4 million heads of sheep to be sacrificed by pilgrims in the holy sites.

Prices of cattle shot up during the season, by up to 70 percent. The price of Naeemi sheep went up from SR550 to SR950 per head. “Cattle prices escalate during the season due to dearth in supply,” said Ahmad Al-Khalaf, a major cattle trader. Speaking to Arab News, Khalaf said he had visited a number of countries including Pakistan and Latin American states seeking to procure healthy cattle to meet the high demand during the season.

There has been a substantial shortage in supply following a ban on cattle imports from some African and European countries following the mad cow scare and an outbreak of Rift Valley Fever in southern Saudi Arabia.

Khalaf warned that unrestricted slaughter of Naeemi sheep would lead to extinction of the species in the near future. He called on the Ministry of Agriculture and Water to ban the slaughter of Naeemi, one of the best varieties of sheep that can resist diseases.

The livestock population in the Kingdom was estimated at 17.9 million heads in 1997. It included 10.6 million sheep, 6.2 million goats and 785,000 camels. Saudi Arabia imported more than four million heads of livestock in the first half of last year.

Khalaf called for setting up of a committee to monitor local market to ensure that the animals sold conformed to Shariah requirements. He accused some cattle farmers of selling sheep aged below six months. Muhammad ibn Saleh Al-Harbi, an investor in the sector, fears that prices might fall drastically due to over-supply by Bedouin farmers.

There is no exact figure on how many animals would be slaughtered in Riyadh annually. However, it is estimated that 1.1 million heads would be sacrificed in the region. Market sources said about 80 percent of slaughter in the capital would take place outside official abattoirs.

Market circles say that most animals are slaughtered in large kitchens of the city. This has affected the business of official slaughterhouses in Azizia, Haer, Naseem and Badeea districts that charge SR10 to SR15 per animal. The Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s agriculture committee has warned that the slaughter of animals outside official slaughterhouses could lead to spread of  diseases.

SOURCE: Arab News 

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