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Armenian sheep seeking for market2012-11-21 16:30
Armenian agriculture, already experiencing hard times for various reasons, has got another problem. According to Armenian media reports, Iran has suspended imports of lamb from Armenia because of the strong devaluation of the national currency (Iranian rial). It makes purchasing of Armenian cattle and paying in U.S. dollars unprofitable for Iranian importers.
According to the newspaper "Hraparak," referring to monitoring, as a result of suspension of exports of Armenian lamb to Iran its price fell by almost half - from 3,500 to 2,000 drams (400 drams - $ 1, Ed.). At the moment, some of the meat from Armenia is shipping to the UAE, but it has no significant effect on prices on the domestic market. The Ministry of Agriculture is in no hurry to make comments on this issue.
Experts believe Armenian lamb market, numbering about 600,000 sheep, is under extensive development, and in terms of exports is mostly focused on Iran, and to a lesser extent - on Syria and the UAE. According to official data, in 2011, Armenia exported 114,000 sheep at a price of $ 105 for one. Armenia is also engaged in re-exports of lamb from Georgia, buying thousands of cattle per 2-3 year.
According to the experts, per year Iran consumes 5,000,000 tons of mutton. According to the study of the Armenian Development Agency, at the present rate, by 2020 the capacity of Armenia's sheep breeding may reach 2.5-3 million head.
In general, economists say, if the decline of sheep exports from Armenia by Iranian importers continues, and the country fails to find new markets, the agriculture can be badly damaged. Its development prospects are very vague. Sheep breeding in Armenia, being at the stage of development, shows distinct signs of monopolization. Rules of the game, most experts say, were imposed by the major economic players, providing the lion's share of imports of mutton, while small farms were severely marginalized.
They are now working only on local markets and cover a very small share of imports. "Overall, however, small farms also won from the import, since the lamb on the local market is almost two times higher compared to the current price", experts say.
The sharp decline in lamb prices in Armenia has already had a negative impact on the socio-economic state of the villagers. In Armenia, the mutton productions are concentrated in a few regions, including the Syunik, Aragatsotn, Gegharkunik and Tavush to some extent. A national minority of Armenia, Yezidis are quite actively involved in the production.