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Assam's milk products hit smuggling roadblock
Rituraj Borthakur in Bokakhat | September 25, 2007 09:45 IST
A dwindling population of swarm buffalo has hit the dairy industry in Assam's Sorbhog and Bokakhat areas, famous for curd and milk products.
Once the town of Bokakhat in upper Assam used to be teeming with people lining up in the small sweet shops to take home a pack of their favourite pedas (a sweetmeat).
Today, the outlets are quiet most of the time.
The plight of the famous buffalo curd of Sorbhog in lower Assam is no better either, courtesy rampant smuggling of cattle to Bangladesh from across the Assam's borders.
Unabated cattle smuggling has emerged as a cause of worry for Assam's dairy sector with experts cautioning that it has alarmingly declined the growth rate of the indigenous cattle population.
Veterinary experts say the smuggling of local cattle and swarm buffaloes out of the state has hit the dairy sector hard as 75 per cent of milk is contributed by the indigenous cattle.
"As the dairy sector in Assam is primarily dependent on the local variety of cows and buffaloes, the smuggling of cattle to Bangladesh and other northeastern states is a serious cause of worry," says a senior research official of the Assam Agricultural University in Guwahati.
Assam produced 821 million litres of milk last year out of which cow milk contributed 84 percent of the total, followed by buffalo (13 per cent) and goat milk (three per cent).
The official said though the indigenous cattle has high lactation and disease-resistant capacity, continuous smuggling of the local varieties coupled with shrinking grazing land and fodder land due to human interference, particularly in the riverine areas has hit its growth rate in the last few years.
"The growth rate of the local swarm buffalo has gone down to minus six per cent as per the last livestock census in 2003. Though the current data is yet to be compiled, according to our study the growth rate has come down further," he said.
Cattle smuggling is rampant through borders in Dhubri and Barak valley districts of Assam and Meghalaya and according to an estimate over 20,000 cows and buffaloes are smuggled to Bangladesh everyday.
The Border Security Force troopers along the frontiers of Assam and Meghalaya have seized over 2,300 cattle this year.
According to sources in the Assam Veterinary College in Guwahati, dwindling population of swarm buffalo has hit the dairy industry in Sarbhog and Bokakhat, locally famous for buffalo curd and milk products.
"Buffalo curd of Sorbhog and 'peda' of Bokakhat are no longer mouthwatering as they used to be because of non-availability of local buffalo milk," a source said adding, "as the buffalo population has dwindled conservation measures should be initiated to save the local dairy industry."