Page last updated at 12:55 GMT, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 13:55 UK

Nepal hit by severe goat shortage

Goat (generic)
A goat offering is a holy act for Hindu devotees

The authorities in Nepal have ordered officials to find more goats for ritual slaughter ahead of the country's biggest religious festival of the year.

Officials say that there is a severe shortage of goats to offer as sacrifice in the capital Kathmandu.

The reason for the shortage is unclear, but experts say it is mostly due to demand outstripping supply.

They say that it may be because China has this year exported fewer goats to Nepal, resulting in far higher prices.

The Nepal Food Corporation has now ordered officials to travel to the countryside and buy goats to be brought to Kathmandu ahead of the festival of Dashain on 19 September.

Goats are traditionally slaughtered during the 15-day event to appease Durga, an important Hindu goddess.

A radio campaign has been launched to persuade farmers to sell their animals as part of a campaign to meet the high demand for goat meat and to control price rises.

'Staff mobilised'

"Kathmandu city faces a shortage of goats during the festival, which always brings a high demand for goat meat," Bijaya Thapa, deputy general manager at the Nepal Food Corporation, told the AFP news agency

"We are bringing goats in to ease the supply and to control dramatic price hikes."

Adverts have been placed in rural areas calling on goat owners to sell their produce.

Mr Thapa said that the price of the animals had risen by a quarter in Kathmandu - but the government hoped that further increases would not happen because 6,000 goats were being brought into the city.

"Our staff have been mobilised across the country to search for goats to prepare for the festival," he said, adding that the government would sell them below the market rates.

"Around 240 goats have already reached Kathmandu and we are expecting more in the coming days."

Correspondents say that there was a similar shortage of goats last year, when the government said that it hoped to supply 4,000 goats to the city, but ended up providing just 2,300.

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