Imported meat and dairy products on rise

Imported meat and dairy products on rise

Economy
24 September 2019, 17:06 87
Meat and dairy products make up the bulk of our daily diet. It is no coincidence that meat and milk are widely used in cooking the most delicious dishes and desserts in our national cuisine. In this sense, these products are among the most consumed. Import volume naturally rises as there is an increase in demand. In January-August, the country imported 33,210 tons of meat. According to the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan, the cost of imported meat was 50 million 138,000 USD. Azerbaijan imported 30,186 tons of meat worth 43 million 660,000 USD, in the first eight months of 2018.  Also, during January-August, the country imported 5,667 tons of milk. During the reporting period, the value of imported milk was 9 million 370,000 USD. In the same months of last year, 5,260 tons of milk worth 7 million 400,000 USD were imported.
 
Is local production capable of meeting domestic demand? Which measures should be taken in order to minimize import volume?
 
According to agricultural expert Nijat Nasirli, we are also affected by the general tendencies in the global meat market. "Currently, all countries import large quantities of meat. The main reason for this is the decline in meat production in general, and the negative impact of global climate change on pastures. All of this generally leads to a decline in livestock production. Therefore, most countries import meat. Countries in South America are major meat importing countries. Neighbouring Russia also imports large quantites of meat each year as well as Iran. Therefore, this is not just the case in Azerbaijan. According to the information we have, Azerbaijan mainly imports the meat of shorthorn animals. Productivity is not increasing, although there is an increase in demand. All countries import in order to meet the demands of the domestic market. According to official figures, red meat is the most in demand in the world. One of the reasons for the growing volume of imports in Azerbaijan is the absence of innovative technologies in farming. The quality indicators per animal in Azerbaijan are much lower than the global average. This applies to both meat and milk output. For example, if the animals in our country provide 1,500 liters of milk, in the world this figure is 9-10 tons. Inadequate breeding, selection work being carried out untimely, as well as the underdeveloped techniques in artificial insemination, all result in lower production of livestock products in the country. This also creates certain interruptions in supplying the population,” the expert said.
 
According to the expert, conditions in Azerbaijan’s milk production is satisfactory. "However, the lack of processing facilities in the regions and the failure of supplying and processing fresh milk at an appropriate market price in time causes certain shortages in the country’s overall milk demand. In our country, milk is usually supplied by small farmers that have no processing means. Some large enterprises supply milk provided by small farmers, but their production is not systematic. Thus, often times small farmers are not able to sell their milk. In other words, they cannot turn it in to added value. Therefore, establishing a processing chain in this sector is a very important issue. The inadequate management and failure in processing fresh milk presents certain challenges in meeting domestic demand. If you turn to any farm today, you will see that they have plenty of milk. The main issue is selling this milk,” he added.
 
Economist Vugar Bayramov said that the demand for meat products in Azerbaijan is not fully covered by local production.  According to preliminary estimates, about 25% of the demand for meat products is covered by imports. "As a result, the demand for imports is increasing as production and demand are on the rise. The final months of 2019 show that the demand for meat and dairy products increased significantly, whereas the volume of domestic production showed no significant changes. As a result, the volume of imports is on the rise as demand increases.  There is an increase in dairy production but there are still some setbacks in meeting domestic demand, which results in the increased demand for imports. Meat and dairy products are of strategic importance to Azerbaijan. That is why support for the cattle breeding sector is very important. In recent years, reforms undertaken in agriculture in Azerbaijan, are being implemented to support mainly crop production. Official figures also show that livestock farming also needs support. True, work has been done but there is need for the Ministry of Agriculture to do more to expand pasture areas and meet the demand for livestock feed. If there is a growing demand, then livestock farming needs to be encouraged. In the future, dependence on imports in meeting the demand for meat and dairy products should be eliminated,” he noted.
 
Shabnam Mehdizade