If Cyclone Jal had pushed the prices of vegetables northwards, the upcoming festival of Bakrid appears to have sent the cost of mutton soaring.

In the last few days, few mutton shops in the city are willing to sell mutton for less than Rs. 280 a kg, far higher than the reigning Rs. 240 a kg. The price went up to almost Rs. 300 per kg in some places on Sunday when the demand for mutton is normally high.

Anwar, a mutton merchant in Russel Market in Shivajinagar, told The Hindu that they are finding it difficult to procure sheep at a financially viable cost in view of Bakrid. “A sheep priced anywhere between Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 3,000 is now commanding a price upwards of Rs. 4,000,” he said.

“What is available for Rs. 240 a kg now is only the type of mutton used for mincemeat. This type is not preferred for other dishes,” he said and added that the cost price for a mutton merchant itself is around Rs. 260 a kg.

With a large number of Muslims scouting for sheep to be sacrificed on Bakrid, the prices have increased.

Even traders from neighbouring Tamil Nadu have descended on areas on the outskirts of the city to purchase sheep in large numbers, according to Mr. Anwar.

Khalid Ahmed, another mutton merchant in Russel Market, said he used to sell meat of around 100 sheep every day till a few days ago when the scarcity of sheep began to hit the merchants.

“Today, I managed to find only 60 sheep,” he said.

Though the availability of sheep had been drying up in the last few months, the situation had turned worse in the run-up to Bakrid, Mr. Ahmed said.

Many mutton merchants are unable to supply mutton to hotels due to the scarcity, he said.

“Only merchants, who have firmed up a contract of regular supply to hotels, are meeting their contractual obligations. Others are not being able to do so,” he added.

Traders from neighbouring States, who are purchasing sheep, are even ensuring a regular supply to mutton merchants in Tamil Nadu. “In Chennai, a kg of mutton costs Rs. 350 to Rs. 380,” he claimed.

But, Mr. Khalid was not sure whether the price of mutton will come down after Bakrid.

“With Christmas and New Year round the corner, it is unlikely that the demand for sheep will come down,” he said.

Keywords: price rise

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