Eid livestock shortage sparks concern
Manama, October 9, 2012
A potential livestock shortage in Bahrain just two weeks before the Eid Al Adha festival has sparked new concern - with charity groups warning they could have little fresh meat to distribute to the poor.
The families of Muslims who perform the Haj pilgrimage traditionally sacrifice a sheep on the first day of Eid and distribute the meat to their friends and neighbours.
Bahrain's main supplier says livestock has been ordered from abroad and new imports are scheduled to arrive in Bahrain.
But with almost 10,000 Bahrainis heading on Haj and charity organisations planning to slaughter thousands of sheep to distribute meat to the poor, the ongoing livestock shortage has led to fears that there may not be enough to go round this year.
Bahrain Islamic Association head Isa Ajlan revealed three charities that came under its umbrella normally slaughtered 7,000 sheep between them - distributing the meat to 2,500 needy families.
He said if nothing was done in this regard, the Al Eslah Islamic Society, Islamic Education Society and Bahrain Islamic Society would be unable to distribute fresh meat to the poor this year.
"We have 2,400 families registered with us to whom we supply meat on the occasion of Eid after sacrificing sheep. But now we don't have any meat," said Ajlan.
"We held internal meetings to study the possibility of importing sacrificial animals from abroad, but it would be expensive.”
"Societies need a period ranging from 15 to 20 days before it reaches here, but with the approach of Eid Al Adha the situation remains unknown."
The Bahrain Livestock Company is Bahrain's main importer of livestock subsidised by the government, but Ajlan said charities could bypass the firm altogether - despite the increased costs.
He is now planning to approach His Majesty King Hamad and HRH Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa for support.
"We have no other option but to highlight this issue to the leadership and seek assistance in sorting out this problem, as all other ways are closed," said Ajlan.
"This problem has been going on for almost two months now and still we haven't received any answers from the authorities.”
"We had an agreement with a Bahraini who promised to bring sheep from abroad, but it is expensive and takes more than 25 days. We cannot wait for such a long time.”
"We can bring sheep from Somalia, which are healthy but expensive. It is BD45 ($119.68) compared with Australian sheep, which costs BD40.”
"We contacted a local merchant to discuss the issue and we are awaiting his reply."
The alternative is to buy meat slaughtered abroad in places such as the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia.
"We will ask people to buy meat from abroad in the event of failure to provide sacrificial meat on time," said Bahrain Islamic Society executive director Faisal Mir.
"But eventually we will have to buy sheep from abroad and slaughter them after getting approval from the Social Development Ministry."
The shortage has not been helped by the rejection of a shipment of 21,000 diseased sheep on August 31, while butchers last month threatened to strike over the quality of chilled meat being flown in - as opposed to locally slaughtered livestock.
An official at the privately-owned Bahrain Livestock Company told our sister newspaper, the Gulf Daily News yesterday that it had received 2,000 heads of healthy livestock from the country's quarantine facility over the weekend. However, the animals had not yet been slaughtered.
He added that orders had been placed for more livestock imports. He, however, said the company was not in control of some issues like whether the animals were allowed into the country or how long they were held in quarantine before being released for slaughter.
The Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry is responsible for ensuring that livestock imports are safe for consumption.
A ministry official said proper tests had to be carried out before the livestock is approved. "We cannot rush these things, we are just following the procedures," he said. – TradeArabia News Service