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Bahrain plans to increase sheep imports by almost 60% during Ramadan to meet food supply demands, according to TradeArabia.com.

More than 95% of the approximately 70,000 sheep imported to Bahrain in an average month is shipped live from Australia. Additional meat for the holy month will be transported chilled from a number of sources, the report says.

Bahrain Livestock chairman Ibrahim Zainal was quoted saying a limited stock of live animals in Australia had forced the decision to import chilled meat.

“Australia is the best place from which to import livestock, but there is not enough to cope with the demand in Bahrain over Ramadan,” he said.

“We don’t really have an alternative but to import chilled meat. We would be importing only livestock if we could but it is not possible. The demand in Bahrain is for live animals to be transported and slaughtered here but importing chilled meat is the next best option.”

Frozen meat will be imported from Australia, India, Ethiopia and Pakistan, said Zainal.

“We have been trying chilled meat from different sources over the last six months,” he said. “The thing about chilled meat is that it gives us more flexibility. It’s also great for us this year because the government has added chilled meat to the list of basic food items to be subsidised.”

“In total, we will be importing around 110,000 heads of sheep for Ramadan this year and that is up from 90,000 last year,” he added.

“In a normal month, the figure is about 70,000 heads.”

Zainal said there should not be any misconception that some of the chilled meat might not be halal.

“Every single consignment of meat arriving into Bahrain must be accompanied by certification from Islamic authorities confirming that the contents are halal, otherwise they will be turned away,” he said.

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