“In seven of the worst affected disaster areas [within Kathmandu] including Basantapur Durbar Square, we have restricted the sale of meat as it could lead to... diseases such as swine flu,” Ek Narayan Aryal, chief district officer of Kathmandu, told GlobalMeatNews.
He explained that the city authorities would soon be demolishing damaged houses and other buildings, and the ban on meat sales and slaughtering would have to remain in place for at least one week. Butchers and general food stores in the capital will especially be impacted. “Foreign tourists are getting meat in big hotels, which are not affected,” he said.
In the whole of Kathmandu there are more than 1,000 meat retail and wholesale outlets, said Aryal. Hygienic Meat Suppliers is one: its sales have plummeted by 90% since the 25 April earthquake: “Our main customers were hotel, restaurants and event organisers, with daily sales of 300-400 kilograms of meat,” said Suraj Maharjan, proprietor of the shop., “Restaurants are closed and we are managing to sell only 30 kilograms a day.”
Maharjan told GlobalMeatNews that here was also a labour shortage problem - almost all the migrant population has left the Kathmandu valley for their native villages to take care of affected families. “Even our workers have left and we are making do with two instead of eight employees,” he added. As for domestic demand, consumers in Nepal mainly eat chicken and mutton, with some demand for buffalo meat, said Maharjan. His company sells some frozen meat imported from India, but demand is mainly for fresh meat, which is supplied from the regions surrounding Kathmandu, within Nepal, he said.
Meanwhile, the disaster has hit the country’s distribution networks, while depressing the general demand for meat, even at the high end of the domestic market. “There are no parties, as rich people have not been celebrating weddings or birthdays since the quake,” said Prem Prasad Poudel, president of the Kaski goat and hen meat committee, in Pokhara, a tourist centre 200 kilometres west of Kathmandu, which is regarded as a gateway to the Himalayas.
Poudel told GlobalMeatNews that the highway to the capital had been cut by the earthquake and the inter-city meat trade within Nepal had stopped completely. As demand falls, prices have also fallen, down from the usual US$3.20 per kilogram of chicken, he said. Nationwide, the meat industry will take time to recover, predicted Maharjan: “It might take six months to one year to get back to normal sales.”