Meat of the matter

Crackdown on abattoirs, processing plants in UP threatens to derail dairy economy.

By: Editorial | Updated: March 28, 2017 7:49 am

uttar pradesh, uttar pradesh government, slaughterhouse closed, illegal slaughterhouse, meat ban, beef ban, meat protest, yogi adityanath, indian express news, editorial, UP news

The Uttar Pradesh government’s current crackdown on buffalo slaughterhouses, meat processing plants and retail outlets in the state — which doesn’t seem to be limited to just “illegal” establishments — is seen by many as threatening the livelihoods of a particular community. The fact is that it goes beyond that, while having the potential to undermine the country’s dairy economy. The cow in traditional agricultural systems was much more than just a milch animal. It was the mother of bullocks that helped the farmer plough the field, draw water from wells for irrigation, thresh grain by trampling and pull his cart. The cow and its progeny were also the source of dung, which was composted into manure for fertiliser application as well as dried and caked for use as fuel. But with the advent of tractors, electric/diesel-powered tubewells, chemical fertilisers and kerosene/LPG cylinders, the cow’s utility has largely reduced to being a milk-producing machine. Male cattle have become increasingly redundant, more so with artificial insemination taking the place of breeding bulls.

One way to view the above transition, which is a product of the last 50 years or so, is through the lens of nostalgia and sentimentality. But whether one likes it or not, the farmer today rears cattle and buffaloes essentially for milk. The viability of milk production, in turn, is a function of herd management: Maintaining only high-milking animals or young heifers and calves that will produce in future. But that is not possible if there is no mechanism available for disposal of unproductive bovines or animals that happen to be male. The farmer simply cannot afford to spend money on feed and fodder for these animals that generate no income for him. One reason why UP’s buffalo population has grown by around 61 per cent between 1997 and 2012 — and, within that, female buffaloes by over 82 per cent — is precisely because of an avenue for their disposal in the form of slaughterhouses. The “Muslim” butcher, in a sense, has created a market for the redundant buffaloes of the “Hindu” farmer, allowing the latter to invest in new productive animals.

The current environment — of closing down abattoirs and so-called unlicensed meat shops, while not applying the same standards to other food processing and retail establishments — could well upset the above ecosystem that is essential to the working of the dairy economy. The increasingly draconian anti-slaughter laws have already left farmers with little incentive to rear cattle, which includes high milk-yielding crossbreds. With that same intolerant fervour now being extended to buffaloes, it could eventually hit the country’s milk production and force reliance on imports similar to edible oils and pulses. Is this what Yogi Adityanath’s government in UP wants?

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  1. T
    Mar 27, 2017 at 7:45 pm
    We have the most "hardworking" economists managing the affairs currently, so why worry when budget deficits, NPAs, inflation are at their lowest levels while exports, investment, employment, and the G D P are at an all-time high !
    1. M
      MH Syed
      Mar 29, 2017 at 3:10 am
      Factual things very nicely covered in this article. Reality is altogether is ansolutely different than what is expressing in public for political reasons. This is absolutely business related issue and not religious issue. No Muslim in this business except slautering the animal but suppliers are all Hindus and farmers. Exporters are also all Hindus. Not only Buffalo but Cow suppliers are also Hindus. Now why Govt heavily crack down the mutton shops and slaughter houses and not on suppliers ? Why Govt not make Act to ban Cows selling ? If male Cow or cows that are unable to give milk, what can be the solution to keep them till their death ? Can farmers afford this ? Why Govt not provide them subsidy to keep such cows to farmers ? Why Govt targeted only Muslims only as they are one part of this w business ? Why Govt not punish all who are doing this business of Cow selling, beef exporting and all others who are involved in this business ? This shows the discrimination of Govt.
      1. S
        S.K. Express
        Mar 28, 2017 at 3:07 am
        "The current environment — of closing down abattoirs and so-called unlicensed meat shops, while not applying the same standards to other food processing and retail establishments — could well upset the above ecosystem that is essential to the working of the dairy economy." lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;So you are saying that allow illegal abattoirs just because other illegal activities have not been stopped. Using your argument, no illegal activity should be stopped. Furthermore, do you have any idea of how these abattoirs are working? Are they maintaining the hygine etc.? Basically, you have a sudden fondness of illegal activities because a majority of these in this case are being performed by Muslims. Shame on you!