London, Asharq Al-Awsat—“How can we buy sacrificial animals if we are the sacrifice?” says Khaled, shaking his head in surprise at the high prices of cattle, adding, “In wars, everything becomes expensive except human beings.”
If you ask Syrians about their plans for this year’s Eid Al-Adha, they say: “What Eid? May God relieve us all [of this war].”
This year’s Eid Al-Adha in Syria is set to be worse than ever for many due to the insecurity, the escalating economic crisis and the decline in purchasing power amid constant price hikes.
Although slaughtering sacrificial animals is one of Eid Al-Adha’s traditions, cattle prices this year have increased than three times over last year’s. The price of one kilogram of mutton has risen from SYP 800 last year to SYP 2,500 in 2013, and veal from SYP 500 to SYP 2,100.
According to Aliqtisadi news website, a 50 kg sheep costs approximately SYP 50,000 while a 200 kg cow is priced at approximately SYP 420,000.
“Cattle prices fluctuated; last year a kilogram of sheep was priced at SYP 300 while one kilogram of calf increased from SYP 250 last year to SYP 400 this year,” Aliqtisadi reported.
The rates of slaughtering and delivery services have also jumped to SYP 2,000, four times higher than last year’s figure.
Syria’s Competition Commission said the increase in cattle prices is the result of a rise in livestock transport costs and fuel prices, as well as the suspension of work at the abattoir in Damascus’s Zablatani district, the scene of fierce fighting.
As a result, animals are being slaughtered in villages without medical supervision, thus making their entry to Damascus difficult.
The increased prices of red meat come at a time when the head of the federation of Syria’s agricultural asociations Abdul Rahman Quronfula says the market may shortly witness a shortage of veal.
Prices of a basic crop used for fattening cattle, barley, have increased by 600 per cent, with fodder and fuel prices increasing by 500 and 450 percent respectively over the past two years.
The Damascus sweet industry has also been hit by a severe recession this year compared to previous years, with shop owners not hoping to make profit this Eid as much as avoid further losses. Many of the country’s most prominent names have left the country in search of safer markets.
Many of Syria’s bakeries have gone out of business due to the increased prices of raw materials, such as oils, fats, flour, sugar and nuts.
The owner of one popular sweet shop in the Syrian capital attributed the recession to the decline in the number of customers, particularly Arab tourists, prompting him to open a branch in Jordan to recoup the losses.
“Sweets are a luxury rather than basic food and people can barely secure their basic needs such as bread, milk, vegetables and meats,” he said.
Sweet prices reportedly soared by 100 per cent compared to last year with the cost of one kg of sweet ranges between SYP 2000 and SYP 5000 on average.