Decks cleared for import of buffalo meat, fish from India

Written by Sandip Das | Huma Siddiqui | New Delhi | Updated: May 21 2013, 05:57am hrs
In a move that could pave the way for export of buffalo meat, fishery products and poultry feeds from India to China, the two countries on Monday signed an agreement on key issues of safety, hygiene and quarantine.

The agreement between India's Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) and Export Inspection Council of India and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of People's Republic of China, will provide for regulatory requirements with respect to safety, hygiene and quarantine of such products.

Till now, China has not allowed import of Indian meat because of concerns that they might be carriers of Rinderpest and foot & mouth disease. Commerce ministry officials have argued that production and processing of Indian meat follows global norms prescribed by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and there was no risk involved.

An APEDA official told FE that OIE had certified that India has been free from Rinderpest since May 2004 and has taken up Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMC) control programme in all the key meat exporting states Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. A commerce ministry official said the pact would help China buy more agricultural and processed food products from India by removing quality restrictions and it would help balance trade deficit.

This issue has been taken up a number of times with China earlier, however, little progress seems to have been made, and the proposed visit of the Chinese delegation to India to review animal health, protocols and inspect abattoir establishments is yet to be scheduled, said a Ficci official.

An APEDA official said China provides a huge potential for Indias buffalo meat product exports. As per estimates, India would emerge as the biggest bovine meat exporters this year as its exports may grow to 2.15 million tonne from 1.66 mt last year.

Indias exports of animal products stood at R15,109 crore in 2011-12, out of which buffalo meat accounted for R13,725 crore. Sheep or goat meat exports were worth R255 crore. Last fiscal, India's meat exports were estimated at more than R18,000 crore out of which bovine meat exports were more than R16,000 crore.

The demand for Indian buffalo meat in international market has seen a sudden increase over the last few years. Buffalo meat dominated the exports with a contribution of more than 86%. At present, the key markets for Indian buffalo meat and other animal products are Vietnam Social Republic, Malaysia, Egypt Arab Republic, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.