ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The demand for birds and animals praised for their beauty is gradually increasing in the Kurdistan Region. In the past few years, more than $2 million has been spent per year to import these birds and animals.
In Kurdish, they are called balinday jwani,
beauty birds, and ajali jwani
, beauty animals.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, more than 2,000,750 tonnes of beauty birds and animals were imported into the Kurdistan Region between 2009 and 2016, at a value of $20,424,000. Most of this money, $12,436,000 was spent importing chickens, geese, and ducks.
The animals, kept as pets, have remained popular despite the financial crisis.
“Due to the high demand in Kurdistan and Iraq, the business of importing beauty birds and animals along with tamed animals is doing well. Kurdistan has become a center for the demands coming from most Iraqi cities and some cities in Iran,” said Nashwan Najmadin, director of the Pet Ranch-Iraq Company for importing beauty birds and animals.
The government benefits from this business through its tax system that is a steady business for people across the Kurdistan Region.
“In every city, 300 to 400 families live on this business. Moreover, 90 percent of the imported birds and animals will be later exported to Iraqi and Iranian cities. If $20 million was spent on importing them, $25 million in sales has returned to the Kurdistan Region. They also benefit from the birds and animals that remain in Kurdistan after their reproduction,” Najmadin said.
The birds imported include: chicken, geese, parrots, canaries, doves, and others. The animals include: deer, rabbits, sheep, goats, horses, monkeys, dogs, and cats.
According to trade ministry statistics, during the first three months of this year, more than $150,000 was spent on importing birds and animals, arriving in the Kurdistan Region through the airport.
“Transporting a palate weighing 1,600 kilos by plane costs us 9000 euros. The cost of their transportation is like the price of buying them. That is why they are expensive here,” Najmadin explained.
During the past eight years, $20 million was spent on transportation alone of beauty birds and animals.
“If you look at it mathematically, it is true that $40 million was sent abroad, but we resold 90 percent of the birds and animals to Iraq and Iran, and this has in turn brought back millions of US dollars to the Kurdistan Region,” Najmadin said.
“Many people have nowadays turned to keeping beauty birds and animals. Many people live on buying and selling their products like their eggs and babies,” said Soran Jamal, owner of Kardinal exhibition for selling beauty birds and animals in Sulaimani.
Jamal would like to see greater government oversight over the business to encourage traders to import high quality animals.
Iranians come to Sulaimani and spend good money buying birds and animals, said Jamal, who sees an opportunity to breed and raise birds for export.
Jamal has German citizenship and returned to the Kurdistan Region four years ago. He has set up a shop to sell birds in Sulaimani. He said he was doing this business in Germany too and entered some of his birds in competition there.
“Compared to four years ago, keeping birds and animals has increased. The problem is that 99 percent of the business people doing this business think about profit and business while importing them rather than thinking about importing high quality goods to increase product in the Kurdistan Region,” Jamal said.
He gave the example of casco parrots. “They have been imported in big numbers since 2008, but none has reproduced. This means that our business people are importing bad quality cascos.”
In an attempt to protect local animals and birds from transmitted diseases, imported birds and animals are examined and kept in quarantine for 21 days.
“Beauty birds and animals are allowed in according to conditions and instructions,” said Dr. Jamal Shukri, director of agricultural quarantine at the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources. These conditions include ensuring birds and animals are not imported from places where there is disease. Imports of protected species are also prohibited.