Two consecutive elections, recent floods in the State and demands from southern states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu accelerated the hike in price of mutton. The sudden surge in increase of mutton price to Rs 600 to 640 per kg created a panic situation among mutton dealers.
“The price of mutton till April 2019 was Rs 480 per kg in Kolhapur while in May there were Lok Sabha elections due to which there was good demand for mutton and a large number of animals were slaughtered. After that, the State was affected due to flood due to which animals died and then again, there were Assembly polls, accelerating the demand. In these two elections, within two to three months, a lot of animals were slaughtered which impacted the supply,” said Khatik Samaj (mutton butchers association), Kolhapur, District President, Vijay Kamble.
He said, “The continuous demand from southern states caused increase in the wholesale price. We are buying for Rs 540 to 550 per kg and therefore it is impossible for us to sell it at Rs 480 per kg. We have been incurring losses since last one-and-half month.”
The price of mutton in states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu is Rs 600 to 650 and dealers in these states are coming to Maharashtra. Pune Mutton Dukandar (Shopkeepers) Association President Prabhakar Kamble said, “In last six months, demands from the southern state has increased as the gavran goat and sheep which are reared in the State are of very good quality and are very much in demand there. However, this has accelerated the price as the live rate has increased to around Rs 600 per kg.”
He said tanneries of Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh which are in peril are also a cause of the increasing price. He said, “The tanneries are shut for last one-and-half years and therefore, earlier we used to get good prices for the skin which we are unable to get now. This adds to the cost of mutton, increasing the price.”
He added, “The unseasonal rainfall has caused havoc with the quality of goats and sheep as they are not very healthy. The offspring are weak as due to the extended rainfall there was lack of food.”
However, as per the 20th Livestock Census 2019 the population of goats in the State has increased by 25 per cent compared to the previous Livestock Census 2012, but there is a minimal increase in the population of sheep. This lack of growth in sheep population is due to reducing grazing land and also lack of interest in the shepherd community.
“The population of goats has increased to 25 per cent in the State but there has been very little increase in sheep population. This is mainly due to decreasing grazing lands as sheep are supposed to be fed on grazing land only. A lot of areas come under Forest Department and therefore there is less grazing area available for them.
Another reason is that sheep rearing is mainly done by shepherd community and nowadays with younger generation of the community is well-educated and does not want to continue with the family tradition of sheep rearing,” said State Animal Husbandry Department Additional Commissioner D Parkale.
As per the State Animal Husbandry Department, the total population of goats for the Census 2019 is 106.04 lakh while in 2012 census it was 84.54 lakh. There is a minimal increase in the population of sheep, which is 26.8 lakh for Census 2019 while it was 25.8 lakh at the time of Census 2012.
The increase in exports affects the local supply in the State. “Earlier, the export of mutton used to happen from Deonar and Aurangabad, but in last one month, for the first time, live goats’ export has also started from Nashik, resulting in further reduction of supply, accelerating the cost. All of this is affecting us badly as the cost of live goats is increasing like anything and we are incurring losses. It is important for the government to intervene to check the price before the industry collapses and we are on the verge of it and facing losses. Dealers from southern states should not be allowed and all associations are planning to reach out to the State government for the same,” said Prabhakar Kamble.