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Regulating Mutton Prices

April 13, 2024
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The conclusion of the holy month of Ramadan and Eid festivities in Kashmir has brought to light a pressing issue that has been plaguing residents for far too long: the exorbitant prices of mutton. The unilateral increase in rates especially by meat sellers across the Kashmir valley has prompted calls for immediate intervention from the government. The price of mutton in Kashmir had been fixed at Rs 650 per kg. However, residents were shocked to find themselves burdened with purchasing meat at rates ranging between Rs 700 and Rs 730 per kg during Ramadan. This sudden spike has caused inconvenience and financial strain for many locals, who are questioning the legitimacy of such arbitrary increases. Moreover, Kashmir experienced a significant decline of approximately 30 percent in mutton sales during the holy month, with around Rs 3 crore worth of sheep being consumed daily. The timing of the price hike, just before the commencement of Ramadan, has raised eyebrows and is being viewed as a deliberate attempt to capitalize on increased meat consumption during the holy month. As per media reports, Mehraj ud Din, General Secretary of the Mutton Dealers Association, highlighted the decrease in the arrival of sheep trucks in Kashmir this year compared to previous years. This decrease, he explained, is attributed to various factors, including the ‘offseason’ for mutton sales and the challenges posed by road closures during the winter season. Despite these challenges, Kashmir has incurred losses amounting to crores of rupees, with sales plummeting by nearly 30 percent. Mehraj estimated the total mutton consumption in Kashmir during Ramadan to be valued at approximately Rs 84 crores. This stark decline in sales has significant implications for both consumers and sellers alike, underscoring the urgent need for intervention. In the preceding year, the CAPD was advised against intervening in the pricing of mutton and other livestock commodities. This decision came after a protracted series of conflicts between the CAPD and mutton traders. Whether it was the alleged creation of artificial scarcity and extended closures by butchers or the regulatory actions taken by the Food Supplies department, the public perceives that both entities manipulated the sentiments of the general populace. However, last year, the central government then took matters into their hands and issued a notification fixing the rates of mutton at Rs. 650 per kg without offal and Rs. 600 per kg with offal. With the CAPD now having no role to play, it is imperative for the government to intervene once again and address the issue of mutton prices. Government intervention is crucial to ensure that mutton prices remain affordable for all residents. It is imperative for authorities to take action against mutton sellers who arbitrarily increase prices. The government must implement stringent measures to regulate mutton prices, including monitoring and enforcing price caps to prevent unjustified price hikes. Also, initiatives should be undertaken to address the root causes of the mutton price crisis, including enhancing the supply chain, promoting competition among sellers, and exploring alternatives to mitigate price fluctuations.

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