As Dashain approaches, livestock markets in the Kathmandu Valley are experiencing a resurgence of activity following a year of curtailed celebrations that hampered business last year.
According to traders, people have been on a goat-buying frenzy in preparation for the animal sacrifices and feasting that are the highlights of the holiday, as if to make up for the fact that they missed out on the festivities.
Nepal imported more goats in the first two months of current fiscal year 2021-22 than it did in the entire previous fiscal year 2020-21, according to government officials.
According to the Department of Customs, a total of 12,043 live goats worth Rs108.28 million were imported into the country between the middle of July and the middle of September. The total number of goats imported during the previous fiscal year was 13,827, valued at Rs107.88 million, during the course of the entire year.
According to dealers, all of the animals were brought from India, and the majority of the shipments were sent to Kathmandu, Nepal.
A senior livestock officer at the Department of Livestock Services, Chandra Dhakal, stated that 5.4 million goats are provided to the domestic market for Dashain.
As Dhakal explained, “according to information collected from various livestock suppliers in the valley, it is predicted that approximately 65,000 goats will arrive in Kathmandu for Dashain this year.”
In Kathmandu, there is a demand for approximately 60,000 goats for Dashain. According to Dhakal, around 200,000 goats have been raised this year by cooperatives and commercial farmers sponsored by Heifer International Nepal.
A further notification to the department came from the Livestock Traders Service Association, which stated that approximately 60,000 goats would be shipped to the valley, with 11,000 coming from Province 1, 6,000 coming from Province 2, 17,500 coming from Bagmati, 2,500 coming from Gandaki, 7,000 coming from Karnali, and 9,000 coming from Sudurpaschim province.
Because the vast majority of the demand would be supplied by domestic production, Dhakal believes that prices will not rise significantly.
“However, if there is no regular monitoring, the price of goat meat may skyrocket.” In the last ten years, according to the data, the demand for goat meat during Dashain has been consistent,” Dhakal explained.
According to the department, aside from Dashain, there is a daily demand for approximately 1,200 head of goats in the valley.
According to the department, 45 veterinary teams have been dispatched to several markets, including Kalanki, Tukucha, Balaju, Koteshwor, Sallaghari and Chalnakhel, among others. The teams will assess the health of the goats in these and other markets.
According to the department, Kathmandu consumes 500,000 goats every year, followed by Pokhara with 120,000, Biratnagar with 100,000, Bharatpur with 50,000, Birtamod with 75,000, Dharan with 30,000, Butwal with 30,000, and Nepalgunj with 40,000.
When it comes to goats during Dashain, Janak Kumar Khadka, president of the Kalanki Khasi Bazaar, says that because of the strong demand for goats during the festival, domestic production falls short of the demand, and goats have to be imported from India. He stated that live goats brought from India will be processed through quarantine.
This Dashain, goat sellers will be supplying the market with over 27,000 animals, according to estimates. Last year, the market provided approximately 20,000 goats. Because demand outstripped availability, Khadka said they will provide approximately 7,000 additional goats this time around.
The rates of live goats, according to Khadka, have jumped by Rs600-700 per kilogramme during the last three-four months. Mutton retails for Rs1,400-1,450 per kilogramme.
There are only two days left until the Dashain holiday, and the demand for mutton is at an all-time high, with tens of thousands of goats pouring into the valley just in time for Nepalis to begin preparing for the annual celebration.
It is estimated that approximately 10,000 goats are sold every day in Kathmandu from the first day of Dashain until the eighth day, according to records kept by the Department of Livestock Services. The total number of animals sold during the festival is approximately 100,000.
The goats sold in the valley are sourced from a variety of districts, including Taplejung, Sankhuwasabha, Rolpa, Rukum, Mustang, Salyan, Pyuthan, Kailali, Jhapa, Morang, Panchthar, Bara, and Khotang, as well as other areas.
According to experts, the celebrations were subdued last year as a result of Covid-19-related limitations, which resulted in a decrease in demand and a decrease in the number of goats imported.
The state-owned Food Management and Trading Company intends to transport approximately 2,000 goats from Hetauda and Dang to the country.
According to the Department of Agriculture, the country produces 552,000 tonnes of meat yearly, worth Rs150 billion.
According to the World Health Organization, a yearly diet of 14 kg of meat per person is considered typical in order to meet the needs of the population.
The meat industry, according to Dhakal, imported 398,000 tonnes of meat in the previous fiscal year, comprising live goats and processed meat, accounting for 0.07 percent of overall requirements. Meat is imported in very small quantities, and the country’s own production meets 99 percent of the country’s needs in this regard.
In recent years, imports of live goats have decreased due to the government issuing health certifications and imposing a 10 percent customs fee on the animals’ meat and hides.
The country has been generating 10.40 million goats per year for the past few years. In the last five years, domestic output has increased dramatically, while imports have been steadily dropping during the same period.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Nepal’s yearly meat, egg, fish, and milk production is worth at Rs450 billion at current market rates, which is equivalent to around $1 billion. Every year, the country produces beef worth Rs275 billion, milk for Rs122 billion, fish worth Rs37 billion, and eggs around Rs17 billion, all of which contribute to the national income.