LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): The livestock population has fallen and the price of meat has risen due to cattle smuggling abroad and drought in southern Helmand province.
Gulab, a butcher, said the drought and smuggling of animals to other countries had resulted in a decrease in the livestock population in the province.
Currently, a kilogram of mutton accounted for 330 afghanis in Lashkargah, compared to 220 afs last year, Gulab added.
Noor Ali, another butcher, said most of owners had sold their animals at the beginning of the current year because of the drought. As a consequence, the price of meat has witnessed a hike. If not supported, farmers would have to sell the remaining cattle as well.
Resident Gull Agha also linked the declining livestock population to drought and smuggling to neighbouring countries.
He confirmed owners sold their animals at dirt-cheap prices due to drought. Such animals are smuggled to Iran and Pakistan. Agha has heard reports of cattle smuggling to Iran and Pakistan.
But, Mohammad Akbar, owner of a general store, did not believe that smuggling was the reason for the shrunken number of animals in the country. He opined the drought had forced people to sell their animals cheaply.
“We have inherited the livestock business from our ancestors. But the drought has forced us to sell our flocks at low prices,” commented Fateh Khan.
“There are no pastures as hay and grass in the mountains had dried. We cannot afford to feed our animals in the winter, so we have sold most of them” Fateh Khan said.
Khan is worried all animals in Helmand province will disappear if the authorities not support local livestock farmers
But provincial officials said they had drawn the attention of higher-ups to the need for helping animal owners.
Maulvi Mohammad Baran Mabror, the agricultural director, claimed: “We have distributed animal feed to 2,942 farmers in Marja, Nawa and Nahri Seraj districts of the province.” Every farmer received 200 kilograms of fodder.
The government remained in contact with relevant organisations on the issue of increased assistance to farmers, Mabror added.
Mullah Ihsanullah Siffat, counter-crime director, claimed the department’s personnel had arrested a number of people trying to smuggle animals to the neighbouring countries.
The official warned no one would be allowed to smuggle animals to other countries. Those involved in livestock smuggling had been referred to judicial organs, Siffat concluded.
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