Cross-bred with local sheep, Agriculture Ministry considers Georgian imports

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Jordanian livestock breeder Radwan Ajarmeh in 2016 moved to Georgia with local sheep to crossbreed, and feed on Georgian pastures, in hopes of growing his business. (Photo: Flickr)
Jordanian livestock breeder Radwan Ajarmeh moved to Georgia in 2016, shipping with him some local sheep to crossbreed, and feed on Georgian pastures, in hopes of growing his business. Today he is one of the biggest sheep dealers in Georgia, exporting a crossbreed of sheep to Europe, Gulf countries, and Egypt, but not Jordan, where sheep from certain countries are banned from imports.  اضافة اعلان

On Sunday, Ajarmeh invited the minister of Agriculture, Khalid Al-Hanifat, while visiting Tbilisi for a meeting with other Jordanian livestock investors in Georgia to discuss prospects of exporting their sheep to Jordan.

In a phone call with Jordan News, Ajarmeh said the minister had promised to look into the request, laying out a number of conditions, one of which is the requisite to extract the sheep’s tail fat before export.

The tail fat is the mark that distinguishes local from imported sheep.
“Even though the meat would be sold as Georgian, it is 95 percent Jordanian,” said Ajarmeh, adding that people in Jordan will be happy to buy the meat — of local quality at an affordable price — noting that local meat is pricey due primarily to the hike in fodder price and shortage of grazing land.

Ministry of Agriculture spokesman Lawrence Majali told Jordan News that Georgian sheep “are not significantly different from local sheep,” hence the ban on imports from Georgia.  However, he said the matter will be reviewed by the relevant authorities as long as the imported meat fulfills national requirements.  
According to Majali, Jordan has no restrictions on meat imports from any country on condition that it meets national safety standards and does constitute a competitive threat to local produce. 

Assistant Secretary-General for Livestock Resources Ali Abu Nuqta said Jordan faces high demand for meat, but that the costly business of breeding local sheep creates a shortage in supply, which Jordan compensates through imports. "Our production of red meat covers only 38 percent of consumption, and the other 62 percent is imported from abroad."

Imported meat also witnessed a recent hike in prices, caused, according to Abu Nuqta, by increased prices in the country of origin and high shipping costs, whether the sheep is shipped alive or slaughtered. 

Jordan News also spoke to Zaid Al-Daboubi, a local sheep breeder, and asked him about the impact of Georgian imports on the livestock market in Jordan. "Local meat is indeed high in price, but the reason behind this lies in the high prices of fodder and the cost of veterinary medicines," he said.

Daboubi spoke of the tremendous demand for Jordanian sheep from the Gulf countries. Since the Hajj season stopped in Saudi Arabia two years ago, the Jordanian livestock market has somewhat stopped. "During the Hajj season, we export approximately 1.5 million sheep to Saudi Arabia, and this can refresh the Jordanian livestock market in a short period," he said.

There is a remarkable resemblance between local and Georgian sheep, agreed Daboubi, saying importing Georgian sheep will undoubtedly affect the local meat market, “although demand for local meat has diminished, compared to previous years.” 

He urged the need to reduce the price of fodder as well as the high cost of veterinary services and medicine to help local breeders offer their products at prices affordable for consumers. 

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