The environment ministry’s notification last week specifying new rules to regulate livestock markets under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA) can have serious implications for the country’s $4 billion buffalo meat exports. The rules, among other things, prohibit farmers from selling their animals for slaughter in the animal markets, which have been the major source of supplies to the meat industry. Devendra Kumar Singh,
chairman of Agricultural and Processed Food Products and Export Development Authority (Apeda), a commerce ministry body, speaks to Sandip Das on the contentious notification.
How would you ensure buffalo meat exports are not adversely impacted by the new rules?
We are still studying the environment ministry’s new notification regulating notified livestock markets. We have had some preliminary discussions with exporters and government officials about the likely impact. We feel that if implemented, the new rules could restrict the supplies of buffalo meat for the exporters in the short run. However, these are still early days to have a definitive view on the rules’ impact on meat trade.
There is a view that in the long run, regulation of cattle (including buffalo) supplies for exports will be streamlined, thanks to the new rules.
The streamlining of the rules would ensure traceability of the buffalo meat exports. Many of the key buffalo meat importing countries like Russia and some of the European countries want traceability. There would be close coordination between the exporters, the sellers or farmers.
Currently, a large volume of supplies from Apeda-approved slaughterhouses come to the animal markets. We have provided approval for 75 integrated slaughterhouses and several stand-alone ones for buffalo meat exports. Of these, 40 units are in Uttar Pradesh. These are mechanised abattoirs with processing plants set up by the private sector, mostly located in UP and Maharashtra. These plants follow all sanitary and phyto-sanitary requirements of the world organisation for animal health.
You might also want to see this:
Will you be writing to the environment ministry on the latest notification?
We have already conducted discussions with our parent (commerce) ministry and will soon write to the two ministries raising our concerns. We exported Rs 26,303 crore worth of buffalo meat in 2016-17 and there is potential for further increasing it. We have been anticipating an upswing in shipment, as Brazil, the world’s biggest beef exporter, is facing a crisis following allegations of contaminated shipment, forcing importing countries to put a freeze. Vietnam, Malaysia, Egypt, Thailand and Saudi Arabia are the top five export destinations for India’s buffalo meat.