Agriculture: officials are satisfied with sheep breeding, shepherds are not

Social | 21.05.10 | 15:33


Aziz Tamoyan (left), head of the Yezidi community, and Ashot
Hovhannisyan from the ministry share their concerns on sheep breeding.

By Gayane Abrahamyan
ArmeniaNow reporter

Armenia's Ministry of Agriculture has reported that prices of mutton
and the stock of sheep should be returned to normal soon, following a
situation since late last year that caused prices to double when sheep
were being exported at higher-than-normal rates.

Nearing holiday season last year, mutton rose from 1,500 drams ($3.8)
to 4,000 drams, ($10) p/kilo which was mainly connected with huge
export of sheep from Armenia to Iran. In 2008, 12,000 sheep were
exported - with the number skyrocketing to 147,000 last year.

Aziz Tamoyan, head of the 60,000-member Yezidi community in Armenia
(an ethnic minority native of the former Kurdistan), traditionally
involved in sheep breeding, says that, in fact, about 300,000 sheep,
including ewes (adult female sheep) have been exported. Ashot
Hovhannisyan, Head of the Department of Animal Husbandry at the
Ministry of Agriculture, however, insists that only rams (adult male
sheep) were exported, and he says that the situation is being resolved
now, as the sheep birthing season has begun.

`If ewes were sold, the number of sheep livestock would not increase,'
Hovhannisyan says, adding that current population is only about 20,000
less than this time last year.

Currently mutton price at Yerevan's markets is about 3,000 drams, and
in the provinces a whole lamb is sold at about 25,000 drams ($64)
(about 2,500 drams per a kilo) instead of the previous 4,000
($10)drams per a kilo.
Tamoyan says that `everything is settled,' now sheep export is
stopped, but Yezidis have problems connected with recovery of their
former sheep livestock.

`Yezidis were deceived with high prices and sold about 90 percent of
their sheep livestock, hoping that later they would buy new animals.
But now sheep are very expensive,' Tamoyan says, adding that he turned
to different banks in Armenia asking for loans for Yezidis, however,
he was refused as currently the crediting in the agricultural sector
is considered to be risky in Armenia.