After the shutting down of Uttar Pradesh’s illegal abattoirs in March 2017, the country’s buffalo meat exports had fallen in April but have since picked up gradually. In volume as well as value terms, exports dipped just 1.7% in May compared with the corresponding month a year ago, while, as reported by FE earlier,the fall was sharper at 10% in April. In April-May, exports of the item, the second-largest element in India’s farm-and-processed-foods exports basket, stood at 1.76 lakh tonnes or Rs 3,417 crore, down 6% from the year-ago period.
In dollar terms, the decline in exports in the first two months of the current financial year was just 4.3%. In the last fiscal, India exported buffalo meat worth of Rs 26,303 crore. In 2014-15, this item for the first time became the largest in the agricultural exports basket, surpassing basmati rice. In 2015-16, buffalo meat exports amounted to Rs 26,684 crore against the shipment of Rs 22,719 crore worth of basmati rice.
In the current fiscal the exports-oriented buffalo meat industry was anticipating an upswing in shipments as the world’s biggest beef exporter, Brazil, had faced a crisis following allegations of contaminated shipments that led many potential importers to stop shipments from the South American nation. Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the key destinations of India’s buffalo meat exporters.
Industry sources told FE that the environment ministry’s notification in May specifying new rules to regulate livestock markets under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA) also may adversely impact the exports. The rules, among other things, prohibit farmers from selling their animals for slaughter in animal markets, which have been the major source of supplies to the meat industry.
While the regulations are ostensibly meant to protect animals from cruelty and not to prohibit the trade in cattle for slaughter, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority in a communication to the environment ministry had stated that all 75 integrated slaughterhouses and several standalone ones for buffalo meat exports had been registered and approved by it. These plants, it said, follow all sanitary and phyto-sanitary requirements of the World Organisation for Animal Health.