Following the crackdown against illegal abattoirs in Uttar Pradesh after the BJP came to power, and the increased attacks on those transporting even buffaloes by self-styled gau rakshaks, and the central government coming out with restrictions on selling animals in cattle mandis if they were meant for slaughter, it was expected that the meat industry would grind to a halt, as would exports of buffalo meat. In FY17, before Yogi Adityanath became chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, such exports crossed Rs 26,300 crore.
While the violence is a real issue that needs to be dealt with firmly, especially given its communal undertones, the latest data from the DGCIS shows that the expected slump in activity has not taken place. In the first quarter of FY18, buffalo meat exports were Rs 5,473 crore, or slightly higher than the Rs 5,445 crore in the same period last year (see graphic). In volume terms, the 2.8 lakh tonnes of buffalo meat exports is also similar. It can be argued that the export are flat while they should have risen, but this is something that pre-dated either the rise in the gau rakshak violence or the crackdown on illegal abattoirs. So, in FY15, buffalo meat exports had risen 10.6% — from Rs 26,472 crore in FY14 to Rs 29,289 crore in FY15 — but exports were almost flat at Rs 26,685 crore in FY16 and Rs 26,303 crore in FY17. While the gau rakshak violence continues to be a serious issue, a major reason for the stability in exports is that, after the initial decision, the UP government had agreed to give abattoirs time to fix their operations.
More important, the change in rules for animal mandis in May — these prohibited the sale of bulls/ cows/ bullocks/buffaloes, among other animals, in animal markets if they were going to be slaughtered by the buyer — were stayed by the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court upheld this.
In the And the government, which was defending its new rules, backed down and said it would revise them in light of the petitions it had got — it even assured SC it would do this. “We source most of animals from slaughter from local markets and all the 75 integrated slaughterhouses and several standalone ones for buffalo meat exports had been registered and approved by a commerce ministry’s arm Agricultural and Processed Food Products Exports Development Authority,” DB Sabharwal, secretary general, All India Meat and Livestocks Exports Association, told FE. In the current fiscal, the buffalo meat industry is expecting a robust exports as shipments as the world’s biggest beef exporter, Brazil, had faced a crisis following allegations of contaminated shipments a few months back that led to many potential importers stopping shipments from the South American nation.