HTS-held areas | High fodder prices and low cattle prices force stockbreeders to quit animal husbandry • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights
The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

HTS-held areas | High fodder prices and low cattle prices force stockbreeders to quit animal husbandry

Cattle farmers in Idlib and its countryside are facing and suffering from many difficulties and challenges due to rising costs and the difficulty of selling their animals because of low prices and revenue they obtain from purchases compared to the high costs of animal feed, which prompted many to give up this profession or reduce the number of livestock to avoid losses. All these factors have triggered decline in the number of livestock and negatively impacted the livestock sector in HTS-held areas in general.


Another essential factor that has contributed to and deepened the suffering of livestock breeders is the lack of support by relevant authorities and organisations, letting the farmers face the exorbitant prices of fodder, barley, “hay” and all essentials needed for raising livestock. Over the past two years, fodder prices have risen dramatically to nearly 440 USD per ton.


The soaring prices of fodders have compelled many farmers, still wanting to keep this profession, to sell more than half of their livestock at low prices to secure basic needs and food for raising their remaining animals.


Many breeders see that the low prices of livestock are attributed to the high prices of feed and all livestock needs, the reduction of pasture land and the high costs of securing a land cultivated with barley to feed livestock


“I left animal husbandry after 25 years of work, despite my deep love for it” with these words a 70-year-old man known by his initials as A. K. and lives in a camp in Deir Hassan in northern Idlib countryside says that over 25 years ago, he began to work as a sheep herder, and he was one of the most famous sheep breeders and cattle dealers in his area in northern Hama countryside.


The elderly man added that before the Syrian Revolution, the number of sheep he owned was more than 250, but now he has only 20 sheep, keeping only a few sheep to benefit from milk for his family and for his deep love of this profession, as he put it.


The man says that the high prices of fodder, “hay” and barley, and low demand for purchasing livestock, except for specific occasions, such as “Eid Al-Adha,” marriage and banquets, have driven many to quit the livestock farming profession. Moreover, most people are no longer interested in raising animals in northern Syria, because of the high cost of raising animals, as the price of an acre of barley farmlands has driven up more than doubled.


The man explained that he had tried a lot to overcome the hard conditions and not to leave the profession, but he had not been able to do so and couldn’t stand anymore because of the great losses he incurred, especially in the early years of his exodus to northern Syria.


He was forced to sell a large number of sheep he kept to meet his needs. Furthermore, the price of livestock was gradually rising to an unacceptable and unaffordable level, further burdening him.


The former sheep herder deplores the lack of interest in the “livestock” sector by the “Salvation Government” or humanitarian organisations in Idlib and its countryside, leaving livestock breeders suffering from soaring costs of raising livestock and stagnant prices of the cattle trade. This factor has impeded livestock breeders’ ability to enjoy basic livelihood and spurred many to leave the profession and seek a new source of income.


There are many popular markets for the sale and purchase of livestock in several areas in Idlib and its countryside. Many livestock producers confirm that the prices of cattle are very low and people refrain from buying them because of the soaring prices of fodder and the cost of raising livestock.


Speaking to SOHR, a 55-year-old resident known by his initials as M. A. in a village near Darkoush in the western countryside of Idlib said that he frequents to the market to buy and sell sheep. The man says “the ongoing deterioration of the ’livestock‘ sector in Idlib will lead to the extinction of animal husbandry occupation due to the many problems and troubles facing breeders.


Recently, feed prices have increased significantly due to drought, a decline in pasture areas and the shortage of basic feed materials, which have prompted the prices to rise dramatically; a kilo of hay is currently priced at nearly five liras.”


He adds, “currently, most of the livestock are slaughtered and their meet is sold in butcher shops, restaurants and organisations, especially on occasions, while many people have stopped breeding animals, which poses a threat to a sharp decline in the number of cattle in northern Syria in general.


“Relevant authorities must find urgent and decisive solutions to help livestock breeders and provide them with facilities, such as providing fodder and medicines at affordable prices. In the past, the profession had yielded good profits, but now it no longer provides even the costs of breading animals,” adds M. A.


The man also explains that the provision of fodder at reduced prices will contribute to encouraging many breeders to increase their cattle numbers and thus markets will see good sales and purchase movement.


Currently, fodder prices are very high. Here are some feed prices:


  • Barley: 430 USD per ton.


  • White hay: Three Turkish liras per kilogram.


  • Red hay: four Turkish liras per kilogram.


  • Grass pea: 480 USD per ton.


  • Dairy feed : 440 USD per ton.


The man points out that there has been an increase in the price of insurance and rental of areas cultivated with barley or other seed used as feed for livestock. This has also deepened the suffering of livestock breeders in the region and prompted them to give up this profession, which no longer provides them with profits or help them to cover expenses for their families, as the man described.


A breeder is forced to sell more than five sheep to buy one ton of fodder. Despite all these difficulties, the “Salvation Government” does not provide solutions or support to breeders.”


It is worth noting that the number of livestock in Idlib and its countryside, according to the Ministry of Agriculture of the Salvation Government, is as follows:


  • Cows : 22,333.


  • Sheep: 284,461.


  • Goats: 62,525.


Many livestock breeders say that mass exodus and displacement have contributed to the rise of the number of cattle in the region, where the majority of livestock breeders in eastern, northern and western Hama countryside and southern Idlib countryside transported their herds to northern Syria.


Over the past years, many professions in Idlib and its countryside have been significantly deteriorated owing to the high prices of basic materials, the collapse of Turkish lira against the US dollar, the significant decline in the purchasing power and restrictions and tightened measures imposed by HTS and the “Salvation Government.”