A pick-up seen ready to transport sheep yesterday. Abdul Basit
DOHA: Buyers complained of livestock sellers taking them for a ride yesterday, a day before the first day of Eid Al Adha, and raising prices of sheep.
The demand for Syrian sheep always soars here ahead of the festival when Muslims slaughter sheep for sacrifice. Complaints were galore that sellers passed off Jordanian and Iranian sheep to buyers as Syrian and cheated people, charging higher prices.
According to market sources, the price difference between a Syrian and Jordanian or Iranian sheep ranged between QR650 and QR1,000.
While a Jordanian or Iranian sheep was selling for up to QR1,150 to QR1,200, Syrian sheep were available for no less than QR1,800.
“The problem is, no one can differentiate between a Jordanian or Iranian sheep and those from Syria,” a Pakistani who gave his name as Hamidullah, said. “Only experts can do that.”
Poor and limited-income Muslims relied on Australian sheep whose prices are subsidised and fixed at QR350 by the state-backed meat and livestock company, Widam.
However, a large number of people prefer to buy non-Australian sheep from the open market, and that explains the chaos and alleged exploitation by traders.
“Taking undue advantage of the soaring demand for sheep during Eid Al Adha, traders keep raising the prices until the onset of the festival,” claimed a buyer who refused to identify himself.
A trader, however, said that was not the case. “The prices have gone up in the countries from where the animals are being imported and that’s why there is a price rise this year.
“Animal fodder prices have gone up worldwide to everybody’s knowledge,” he said, not wanting his name in print.
Some buyers claimed sheep prices were more than 50 percent higher this year compared to 2012. They also claimed that inspectors from the state consumer rights watchdog, the Consumer Protection Department (CPD), who keep track on sheep pricing, have been conspicuous by their absence.
“We haven’t seen any government inspectors here particularly during rush hours, and that is why traders had a field day,” an Asian buyer said, not giving his name.
Asked about Syrian sheep, a trader said they were being transported here via Turkey and Lebanon due to the huge demand.
A highlight this year has been that a lot of pick-up operators have descended on the market to make a fast buck transporting sheep to buyers’ homes.
“I bought a Jordanian sheep for QR1,150 and had to pay QR130 to a Sudanese pick-up operator to drop it at my residence,” said an Indian. “I had to haggle as he first demanded QR200 and he won’t initially budge.” These are unlicensed pick-up operators, from different nationalities, and throng the livestock market every Eid to make some extra bucks.
A pick-up operator said he had made three trips since morning (yesterday). He, however, didn’t disclose his earnings.
Not many illegal porters were seen in the market this year, though. The market is expected to remain active for the first three days of the festival.