By: Sandip Das
Meat exports have surged over the last few years as a greater number of exporters have adhered to stringent global quality standards. The government too has undertaken several measures aimed at eliminating animal diseases, which have contributed to the jump in exports.
As per the latest data, exports of meat and allied products have risen to more than Rs 19,946 crore in the first three quarters of FY14, against Rs 17,902 crore earned during same period in FY13.
Meat exports touched Rs 20,778 crore during FY13. Major exports were buffalo meat at Rs 17,412 crore and sheep and goat meat at Rs 425 crore. In fact, buffalo meat contributed over 86 per cent.
A commerce ministry official said that meat exports registered 27 per cent growth in FY13. Major destinations are Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and UAE.
This surge in exports has been raised repeatedly by the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. He has alleged that subsidies have been given by the government for transport of processed meat to ports, and abattoirs have got financial support to bring forth this ‘pink revolution’.
India accounts for nearly 13 per cent of the world’s cattle population, half the buffalo population and 15 per cent of the goat population.
Officials at the Agricultural and Processed Food Exports Development Authority (Apeda) said that concerted efforts to eliminate diseases such as rinderpest and foot and mouth disease have borne fruit. Rinderpest was eliminated in 1995 and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) officially declared India free of the disease. The incidents of foot and mouth disease have been sporadic.
A note prepared by Apeda had said that diseases like bovine spongiform encephalopathy and scrapie have never been reported in the country. “Our animals are not fed on meat and bone meal and also not stall fed,” the Apeda official said, adding that no protein supplements and growth hormones are used in animal feed.
Currently, there are around 10 mechanised abattoirs and processing plants set up by the private sector, and these plants follow all sanitary and phyto-sanitary requirements of the OIE.
“Each export consignment is subjected to compulsory micro-bilogical test and inspection is done by officials from animal husbandry department, Apeda, Food Safety and Standard Authority of India and state government vetenary departments,” an Apeda official said.