By Peter Tase
A few days ago, I had the privilege to interview an Azerbaijani farmer living in Iran. The following is a text of our conversation. His name is kept confidential to avoid any repercussions in his home country.
Question: How do you assess the current situation of the livestock and animal husbandry industry?
Answer: In recent years, our most important problem has been the prices of animal feed (corn, soybeans, etc.) that has been increasing day by day, but the price of livestock products such as milk and meat does not increase accordingly. That is why production is no longer profitable for us. Unfortunately, many established industrial livestock farms have shut down for this reason, and with this situation, more closures are in sight.
Question: Please explain a bit more about supply problems of animal feed such as barley bran etc. How much do you pay for animal feed and at what price do you sell the milk and meat produced?
Answer: The government has set the price of 1700 Tomans for each kilo of barley and 1800 Tomans for corn. But since the government does not provide the required amount to the farmers, we must buy it from the open market with an average price of 7,000 Tomans, while the announced price of milk is 6,400 Tomans which is less than the cost price of milk produced. However, now the official price setting has been dropped and they left it to the agreement between farmer and the factory owner.
Question: Are the authorities taking action to solve your problems?
Answer: No organ of the government does anything to remove these obstacles, and when we inform them of these obstacles and ask them to be removed, they claim it is illegal to do so! In fact, in order not to remove obstacles, they qualify our demands as illegal and do not pay attention to our problems and requests.
Question: Given the problems of animal feed and the imbalance between costs and incomes, can you keep on practicing your profession?
Answer: As you mentioned in your question, due to the unbalanced income and expenditure over the past few months, we have not made a profit, we even have incurred a loss, and due to high inflation and difficult living conditions, a significant number of colleagues have gone bankrupt and left. The Iranian people blame Khamenei for all these problems, and for this reason they constantly chant slogans against Khamenei in their strikes and protests.
Question: How is the situation with poultry and chicken and eggs producers?
Answer: As far as I know, the poultry industry suffers from similar problems. Most certainly you have seen the long queue for chicken. People have substituted chicken in their diet instead of red meat but since its price have also skyrocketed it has been eliminated from their diet as well.
Question: What is the source of these problems?
Answer: I think the root of these problems lies in the corruption that is institutionalized in this system.
Even the regime’s officials themselves have acknowledged the “monopoly” created on the import of livestock feed with government exchange rate of 4,200 Tomans and their sale at open market rate price formed a vicious cycle from brokerage to financial corruption.
The import of livestock and poultry feed is the prerogative of the Modallal family, and they are said to have a close relationship with government leaders and is therefore they have an open hand to looting the people.
There are other reasons as well, including:
1- Lagging behind the latest technology in the world
2- Lack of macro management of supply and demand
3 – Lack of appropriate vaccines for common diseases of livestock and poultry
Question: What are the consequences of this situation in the lives of people, both producers and consumers?
Answer: The result of this situation is that on the one hand the farmer is going bankrupt due to the lack of balance between costs and incomes and on the other hand meat and dairy products have been eliminated from the diet of most people, since they can no longer afford to buy them.
In short, due to looting and institutional corruption in the system that created the economic mafia, both producers (livestock and poultry farmers) and consumers, suffer and are harmed, and the only beneficiary of this situation is the economic mafia. All of them, without exception, are directly and indirectly to the government and religious officials and the Revolutionary Guards and companies affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards and Khamenei’ entourage throughout Iran, and there is no body to audit them.
Question: Do you think Raisi who was recently appointed president by Khamenei, can solve any problem for the Iranian people?
Answer: In my opinion, no. He cannot solve a single problem. He is an illiterate and incompetent person who does not even have a high school diploma! He only knows how to issue a death sentence! At the same time, the Iranian people have not forgotten that he has played a significant role in recent years in the killing of opponents of this government, especially in 1988 massacre and killing of political prisoners, during which more than 30,000 people were executed.