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Meat exports set to expand further

Our Bureau

MUMBAI, Aug. 10

THE country's meat exports, which nearly doubled last year from 1999, are expected to rise further in the current calendar year and are likely to maintain the tempo next year too.

From 1.67 lakh tonnes in 1999, meat exports rose sharply to 3.00 lakh tonnes in 2000. Besides increased exports to traditional markets in West Asia, Malaysia, Thailand and Mauritius, there was significant increase to relatively new African markets such a s Egypt, Gabon etc due to their bans on European Union meat imports.

This has boosted 2001 export prospects to 3.75 lakh tonnes, according to a report of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) which said trade sources forecast India's 2002 meat exports to 4.10 tonnes, especially if supported by improved access to the Rus sian market.

Meat and meat products exports are permitted subject to periodic inspection by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), the nodal agency monitoring meat exports.

Improved fodder supplies and better prices for meat animals are expected to boost cattle/buffalo populations by about two per cent in 2002, the report said. Preference for water buffaloes (which make up 45 per cent of the bovine population) continues to increase due to the higher fat yield of their milk, their ability to thrive on inferior rations, and the expanding export market for carabeef (buffalo meat).

Unlike for cattle, most states have fewer restrictions on the slaughter of buffaloes, thus allowing the growth of this largely export-driven meat sector. Although the slaughter of cows is banned in all but two states due to religious sensitivities, some illegal slaughter does occur, USDA pointed out.

Use of commercial feeds in the meat and dairy sectors is extremely low as most herds consist of just a few animals, dependent upon locally available feedstuffs. The continued capitalisation of the dairy and meat-export sectors is expected, however, to le ad to the greater use of commercial feeds, the report observed.

Livestock slaughter remains mainly a small-scale operation, done in street corner shops in an unorganised manner. This responds to strong consumer preference for freshly slaughtered meat. The market for fresh/chilled meat is weak, and most consumers cont inue to have a negative view of frozen meat.

Related links:
Fallout of foot & mouth disease, BSE in Europe -- Meat exports enquiries seen surging up

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