Kathmandu, August 21
Traders have said that the strict quarantine checking is likely to affect the supply of goats this festive season.
After the government tightened the import of live goats since February, the shortage of goat meat in the market has been gradually rising. Aiming to supply healthy goat meat in the market, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development had tightened the quarantine check to ensure that only healthy goats are being imported into the country.
However, the import of live goats has declined after the government imposed stricter rules of quarantine check on imported livestock. “After the government started demanding phytosanitary certification for imported livestock, goat import has declined by 50 per cent. As the market has already started facing shortage of goat meat, this is surely going to affect the market for festive season,” said Deepak Thapa, president of Nepal Livestock Traders Association.
As per him, India does not issue phytosanitary certificates to live goats as easily as for fresh meat or packaged meat items. Due to this, goat traders of India have been unable to supply goats to Nepal, he added. “The government has implemented this rule without conducting any market study. Hence, the market is facing a shortage of goat meat,” he said. “Either the government should relax the quarantine checking rule or has to find a way to meet the market demand for this festive season.”
According to Thapa, Nepal imports around 40,000 to 50,000 units of goats during the festive season. Likewise, around 20,000 to 25,000 units of goats are being supplied to the market from local production. However, with the new rule in place, traders said they are unsure of the number of goats that they will be able to import for the festivals this year.
According to the Department of Customs, a total of 315,906 live goats were imported in the first 11 months of the 2018-19 fiscal year. Meanwhile, a total of 392,758 live goats had been imported during the same period of previous fiscal.
Amidst this, Agriculture Minister Chakrapani Khanal has said that in order to secure consumers’ right to have healthy meat, the ministry has tightened the quarantine checking. He further said that the ministry will not withdraw its decision even though the traders have been protesting against the government. “We won’t allow even a single goat that has not passed the health tests from crossing the border,” he said. “It is not a big deal if goat meat consumption falls this year. For the coming days, we will increase our own production level.”
The minister further said the government will encourage local traders to focus on mass production of goats in order to reduce its import.
A version of this article appears in print on August 22, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.