Officials blame butchers for rising meat prices

Various experts and cattle breeders believe that butchers are responsible for the recent rise in meat prices. On top of this, Egypt has lost nearly 900,000 cattle due to the import of sick cattle from abroad, said Saad el-Hayany, president of the Cattle Breeder Union. However, 75 percent of the rise in prices is due to the butchers desire to make additional profits.

The farmer or breeder receives 20 percent of the profit when he breeds cattle for a period of 12 to 15 months. However, the butcher earns LE15 in only five days.

There are other reasons behind the crisis, added el-Hayany. Egypt has lost more than 15 percent of its six million cattle, with the death of nearly 900,000 in 2006 due to the import of cattle from Ethopia infected with foot-and-mouth disease.

Cattle breeders are being encouraged to increase their rate of cattle production to increase the supply in the market through easily acquired loan procedures, said Tawfiq Shalaby, head of the animal production sector of the Ministry of Agriculture.

In related news, Ahmed el-Wakeel, chairman of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce refused to ban the import of meat from India, even after a shipment was discovered to be infected with sarcocystis protozoa, and the infected meat was later found in the markets.

"The price of meat reached LE80 per kilo, and demand is greater than supply, so we cannot let the mistake of an Indian slaughterhouse affect how we deal with this crisis in Egypt, especially since the state cannot provide meat at a suitable price for people with a low income." He reiterated that the shipment cleared customs and will not harm anyone’s health.

Egypt should allow meat to be imported from Europe, as meat from India, Ethiopia and Brazil may be infected and not up to specifications, said Hamdy el-Nagar, head of the importers branch of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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