Sharp spike in buffalo meat export via south ports raises beef question

The current rules mandate every meat export consignment to be subjected to microbiological tests, with a health certificate issued by a veterinary doctor from the concerned state animal husbandry department.

Written by Harish Damodaran | New Delhi | Updated: October 1, 2017 3:47 pm
beef, beef ban, buffalo meat, beef exports, meat exports, india beef exports, buffalo meat export, slaughter ban, south beef ban, indian express news, india news A certificate issued by a veterinary doctor has to be produced before the customs authorities for clearance of the container at the port.

A sudden jump in buffalo meat shipments through southern ports has raised the question whether some of these might actually be beef from cattle (cow and its progeny), the export of which is banned. The basis for this is primarily two-fold. Between 2014-15 and 2016-17, India’s buffalo meat exports fell from 14.76 lakh tonnes (valued at Rs 29,289.16 crore) to 13.31 lakh tonnes (Rs 26,307.93 crore).

This was reflected at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) at Nhava Sheva near Mumbai, the country’s biggest container-handling port, where the consignments fell by over a fifth. But the same period saw exports through Chennai and the nearby Kattupalli port going up by roughly five times (see table).

Secondly, quite a few of those exporting sizable cargoes — between 50 and 250 full container loads (each of 28 tonnes) annually — from the two southern ports have processing plants in places as far away as Dasna (Ghaziabad) and Sahaspur (Bijnor) in Uttar Pradesh and Burma Camp (Dimapur) in Nagaland. The choice of ports, 2,000-3,000 km away from their plants, has raised questions.

“We have asked the firms to submit all the relevant documents to enable us to verify whether the exports are genuine buffalo meat consignments,” Devendra Kumar Singh, chairman, Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), told The Sunday Express.

An official from the All India Meat & Livestock Exporters Association (AIMLEA) alleged that certain “fly-by-night operators” have been resorting to illegal export of beef, by falsely declaring these as frozen buffalo meat. The modus operandi is to source “suspect meat” mainly from southern states (where slaughter of cattle is permitted for local consumption), get it processed (i.e. de-boned and frozen) at a local plant, and then procure a health certificate from a facility having APEDA approval for export of buffalo meat.

The current rules mandate every meat export consignment to be subjected to microbiological tests, with a health certificate issued by a veterinary doctor from the concerned state animal husbandry department. This certificate has to be produced before the customs authorities for clearance of the container at the port. “In some cases, the exporter may even have an APEDA-approved plant, but the meat he is shipping out is from cattle that has been slaughtered and processed elsewhere,” said the AIMLEA official.

In July 2016, Ankit Kapoor, the owner of Global Foods International, a Delhi-based exporter, was arrested after his containers worth about Rs 1.2 crore, headed for the Middle East through Kolkata Port, were intercepted by the customs department. The meat was tested and found to be beef, despite being backed by a health certificate from UP’s animal husbandry department.

“Similar illegal consignments were going through JNPT as well, which stopped after the Maharashtra government’s comprehensive cattle slaughter ban legislation in March 2015. Since then, the action has shifted to the South, proof of which is the rise in shipments from ports there from 2015-16,” said the AIMLEA official.

According to him, the economics of illegal beef exports are compelling, given that the cost of a 400-kg live buffalo, delivered to an APEDA-approved abattoir-cum-processing plant in UP, is now around Rs 30,000-32,000. As against this, cattle of similar weight would be available at Rs 15,000-16,000, if not lower.

“Today, Maharashtra does not allow even bulls, bullocks and male calves to be slaughtered. All these animals are moving to the South, which, together with desperate farmers willing to sell at any cost, has brought down prices. It has also allowed unscrupulous exporters to exploit the arbitrage opportunities from the price difference between buffaloes and cattle,” he added.

Singh admitted the possibility of misuse of health certificates, especially when these are issued manually. “We plan to completely move to online application and issuance of health certificates through APEDA’s Meat.Net system. Doing this will make it possible to match the health certificates issued against each consignment, with the corresponding invoice/ shipping bills and the QR Code/ registration number of the exporting plant. This would ensure traceability and no scope for mis-declaration,” he said.

Meanwhile, S Sasti Kumar of Ponne Products Exports, which has an APEDA-approved processing plant at Dimapur and shipped out nearly 250 container loads of buffalo meat from Chennai, claimed it was more economical for him to export from southern ports rather than Kolkata or Haldia. “I export to the Middle East through JNPT and to Vietnam and other southeast Asian countries from Chennai. Moreover, all my other operations (poultry feed and egg exports) are based out of Chennai,” he said.

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  1. S
    Syed Kiyanoosh
    Oct 1, 2017 at 4:06 pm
    Earning karne do , before the methane emitted by the farting cows raise Indian and global temperature to an unbearable level and all the Cow Bhakts get drowned in Cow emitted Methane and suffocate . The Cow Bhaktas should have first preference in dying in global warming. Methane emitted NYC a single Cow is good for cooking in a single household for a day. Such is Go Mata Methane power. On a serious note, the news item is unimportant and does not deserve printing. It also the extent of schizophrenic paronoid mentality of Indian public . Please write about sufferings and problems of the Cow owners. Their loss of income, tears and desperations.
    1. A
      Anthony D'silva, Goa
      Oct 1, 2017 at 2:59 pm
      Why this complaint? Is there not enough beef on the plate of Alu Shah and Feku? They can come to Goa and Manohar Paarikar will treat them to veal from a young cow freshly slaughtered. And don't forget to bring that Bhogi when coming for the treat.
      1. Krishna Kant Singh
        Oct 1, 2017 at 2:53 pm
        Unimportant news!
        1. R
          Oct 1, 2017 at 2:24 pm
          bjp have two loot poor people through petrol and diesel, banning meat export which decline the price of livestock of poor farmer and by exporting themselves 2nd polarization of society in the name of development agenda only rhetoric agenda.
          1. M
            Oct 1, 2017 at 2:40 pm
            Absolutely correct... but its a setup of those set number of people who virtually allowed to cross all limits for themselves and stop others in false pretext of nationalism or religion.
            1. S
              Syed Kiyanoosh
              Oct 1, 2017 at 6:02 pm
              Indian people deserve to suffer for bringing BJP to power. They came to prominence thru violence, terrorism and hatred. Think about a party once banned, then having two seats only , coming to central government power thru dubious means. India is a mind boggling diverse country with all the religions, 18 or more major different languages, multi-ethnicity etc. Only a very broad hearted humanity based party deserve to rule India .
            2. B
              Oct 1, 2017 at 2:21 pm
              stupid north indian bra man's and jains banias .I know you are so fond of beef and eat outside your home in hotels and friend house. but once back in home you become a hypocrite. when outside like in US and gulf countries you are cooking at home and eating like anything. the meat shops have no bizness on Tuesday as you hypocrite buggers keep fast from meat. you don't take care of your aged poor two legged mother but do propaganda for four legged mother. you are stupid blind..cow is just another is mother of calf that was born when it got ed properly by a bull. now don't drink it's is meant for the calf.
              1. D
                Oct 1, 2017 at 3:57 pm
                Mr Babur, your comments proves that katwaas are not only katwaas but katwaas bhawdaas.
                1. R
                  Oct 1, 2017 at 5:35 pm
                  Y Muslim jack ass...go to pakistan
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