The result of public policy: Donkey and cat meat on the plates of Algerians

At the beginning of 2022, with donkey meat sold in stalls in different regions of the country, cat meat was offered by some butchers and on the menu of paying citizens in Algeria in recent weeks. .

What initially appeared to be just a rumor eventually turned into reality, prompting the Communal People’s Assembly (APC) of Algerian neighborhood Gué de Constantin to warn citizens and discourage them from selling cat meat through a press release. served as rabbit meat. According to sources, the warning comes after several butcher shops in the city indulged in this forgery to confuse consumers.

The business grew to such an extent that some butchers were forced to keep the heads and tails of rabbits with the rest of the carcasses as proof that they were not butchered cats.

A situation that drives the authorities to act, trying to deny reality, as is often the case. For this, there is no better way than to go through the Association for Consumer Protection and Guidance (Apoce) to refute, claiming that it was just guidance and awareness that was misunderstood by Constantine Ford APC. However, the president of Apoce himself admits that there is fraud in the red meat trade, emphasizing that the directives are issued at the national level.

It should be noted that cases of meat fraud in Algeria are not the first. During the past year, in several regions, donkey meat was put on the market instead of beef, followed by several slaughterings.

Moreover, in Tlemcen, the gendarmes dismantled a network of slaughtering and distributing donkey, mule and horse meat after discovering a secret slaughterhouse and a butcher’s shop selling donkey meat. As a result of the operation, several dismembered donkey bodies and remains buried in the soil of a secret slaughterhouse were discovered. This means that donkey meat ends up on many plates of city dwellers.

Similarly, several head donkeys were found in Oran in January 2022 with their throats cut, indicating that people were involved in the fake sale of donkey meat.

This traffic represents a lucrative market and has led some to start a small business out of it. If the sale of fake meat has only increased in recent years, it is because the land is favorable for this traffic. Indeed, the supply of meat has been insufficient and prices have skyrocketed as a result. Two factors that drive some to chase consumers for easy profits.

In terms of supply, meat is in short supply in Algeria. The deficit can be explained by three main factors. First, there is a structural deficit in local meat production due to the inability of the Algerian herd to keep up with the continuous increase in domestic demand associated with population growth and increased urbanization.

Later, this deficit was exacerbated by the impact of rising livestock feed prices, which forced a number of breeders to sell some of their livestock as operating costs became unsustainable.

Finally, and this is the main factor that explains the aggravation of the red meat deficit in Algeria: the government’s policy of banning imports, under the direction of President Abdelmajid Tebbou, who has made it the alpha and omega of his strategy for the sole purpose of this. to preserve the country’s foreign exchange reserves, even if it causes people to starve and/or become poor.

However, red meat imports in 2019 were $186 million ($104.6 million) for fresh meat and $81.4 million ($135 million for frozen meat) to $210 million ($135 million for fresh meat) in 2018. million dollars and 75 million dollars for frozen meat). This means that the red meat deficit to be filled by imports is huge. And the lack of this import naturally creates a great shortage. The Algerian government just doesn’t care… and has other fish to fry…

As evidence, in addition to the bans on fresh and frozen meats, the Algerian government also banned the import of Spanish beef last April after a political crisis between Algeria and Madrid stemming from the government’s new position. problem. A decision that aggravates the low supply of red meat in the country.

But for Tebbun, the purpose of this policy is elsewhere. On Thursday, January 19, during a recent public outing that brought together the government and governors at the Palais des Nations, he said that foreign exchange reserves were more than $60 billion, which he explained by “a reduction in legal imports. From $36 billion to $38 billion.” , “This bill has ballooned to $63 billion a year due to past over-invoicing.”

If it is not possible to exclude the presence of excessive invoices during the inflation of the country’s import invoice only in the old regime, it should be emphasized that this significant reduction of the import invoice is essentially explained by the cessation of the import of many products. causing shortages and rising prices.

Images of endless queues, hoarding and rationing of essential products from around the world clearly show that the policy of stopping imports is hurting Algerian families.

Then there is the effect of rising meat prices, which logically follows from a lack of supply. By the law of supply and demand, the continued weakness of supply drove up the price of meat. It should be noted that the kilogram of red meat fluctuated between 1150 and 1250 Algerian dinars for more than 10 years from 2011 to 2021, before the import was stopped. However, the decision to freeze meat imports was made in the 4th quarter of 2020. , which allowed the country to save more than $200 million a year, according to estimates by the Ministry of Commerce, caused the price of meat to rise. Last December, a kilo of meat reached the limit of 2000 Algerian dinars.

Thus, chronic deficits and rising meat prices created fertile ground for the proliferation of donkey and cat meat sales.

It is also aware of this phenomenon that the authorities have decided to reconsider the policy of banning the import of meat. Thus, according to Lamine Derradji, CEO of Algerian Red Meats (Alviar), fresh red meat will soon drop to 1,200 dinars per kilo. During his speech on the Echourouk Morning program last December, “the Ministry of Agriculture gave a period of one month starting from the middle of next January before applying for imports.”

This decision is mainly due to the approach of the month of Ramadan, which is synonymous with high meat consumption among Algerians. “On the eve of Ramadan, a large amount of red meat will be brought from sister countries and South America (…) and their price will not exceed 1,200 dinars per kilo,” confirmed the president of Alviar.

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