The price of lamb meat in Azerbaijan has seen a significant increase, with current prices ranging between 19-20 manats per kilogram, meat sellers report. This rise, amounting to an average increase of 20-25 manats per animal, is attributed to various factors, including the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday on June 16.

Despite the relative stability in the prices of many vegetable products over the past five to six years, economists note that meat prices have surged by approximately 60% over the same period. Experts highlight that the recent price hike in lamb began even before the holiday and is expected to continue thereafter.

Official statistics reveal a decline in livestock numbers, exacerbating the price increases. As of April 1, 2024, the number of sheep and goats in Azerbaijan stood at 7.206 million, a decrease of 154,000 heads or 2.1% compared to the same period last year, according to the State Statistics Committee (SSC).

Moreover, the import of live sheep into Azerbaijan has diminished. The SSC reported that in the first quarter of 2024, 61.4 live sheep worth $650,000 were imported, a stark decline from the 74.9 units worth $1.83 million imported during the same period in 2023. The average import price of a sheep rose to $94 (161 manats), marking an 8% increase year-on-year.

A Baku-based meat seller described the rising costs, saying  Azadlig Radio, "I bring animals from Bilasuvar. There, the price of lamb and sheep has increased by an average of 20-30 manats, depending on the weight. Consequently, we have been compelled to raise meat prices to 19-20 manats per kilogram." He added that prices might reach 25 manats per kilogram by fall if current trends continue.

Tahir Rzayev, Chairman of the Committee on Agrarian Policy of the Milli Majlis, commented on the high demand for lamb and beef in Azerbaijan for Turan. He noted that intermediary activities contribute to price inflation, stating, "While meat is cheaper in the regions, urban prices are high due to intermediaries buying from districts and marking up the prices. Additionally, not every entrepreneur can enter the market due to various obstacles."

Rzayev also pointed out that increasing feed prices, the reduction of pasture lands, and their conversion for other uses are significant factors driving meat price hikes. He emphasized the impact of waste in public catering, suggesting that better management could help stabilize prices.

Agricultural expert Vahid Maharramov highlighted the decline in small ruminant numbers over the past four years, citing a reduction of 1.18 million heads. He attributed this to issues with forage production and pasture management, noting, "We produce significantly less hay and power feed than needed. Moreover, a large portion of pasture areas is controlled by oligarchs and officials."

Maharramov further explained that the lack of imports from Georgia, due to disease outbreaks among livestock, has reduced supply, coinciding with increased demand during Eid al-Adha, thereby pushing prices higher.

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