September 20, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The Saudi government has decided not to import any meat from Sudan for the religious sacrifice season this year citing high prices.
- Men wait to buy meat at the market in Khartoum, Sudan (Reuters)
According to informed sources, Riyadh informed the commerce attaché at the Sudanese embassy of their decision noting that the price of a lamb for instance is sold by Sudan for over $100.
The move coincides with an ongoing campaign in Sudan to boycott red meat in protest against its high prices.
The head of the union of livestock and meat exporters Sideeg Haydoob reacted to the news describing it as a "disaster" especially that Sudan is heavily reliant on the annual Islamic sacrifice season for its meat exports which also provides the desperately needed hard currency.
Haydoob criticised the government saying that they are more concerned with political issues while neglecting the livestock industry.
He claimed that several unlicensed individuals have entered the livestock business causing the hike in meat prices and suggested that they are using that as a cover for money laundering. Haydoob said that illegal exporters are buying livestock for astronomical prices without needing any funding from banks.
The ministry of commerce, security agencies and Bank of Sudan were informed of that, Haydoob said adding they only started cracking down recently.
Although Sudan has huge animal resources, prices of red meat have reached such a level that consumers can rarely afford to buy it. One kilo of mutton in Khartoum used to sell for 35 Sudanese pounds (about US$9) while a kilo of veal sells for 25 Sudanese pounds (about US$6.2).
Butchers have blamed exporters for the high prices, arguing that while they used to buy one average size sheep for 200 Sudanese pounds (US$50), exporters can pay up to 500 Sudanese pounds (US$125) for same.
The boycott campaign which lasted from Sunday till Tuesday has reportedly helped force a reduction in prices but consumers say that the price of alternative food products went up.
Sudan’s economic situation worsened after the partition of South Sudan which contained 75% of the country’s oil reserves. The Sudanese pound exchange rate has deteriorated sharply in the last few weeks with the central bank appearing unable to stop the trend.
Annual inflation rose to 21.1 percent in August, versus 17.6 percent in the same month a year ago. Month-on-month inflation increased by 3.7 percent in August, the Central Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday.
Food prices, which make up more than half the consumer price index, rose by 5.1 percent in August from July, and by 25.2 percent compared to August last year. Prices for clothing and shoes rose by 7.7 percent from July and 21.5 percent year-on-year, the data showed.