India has lost almost the entire buffalo meat export market to Brazil, Australia and the US.
Brazil has exceeded India as the world's biggest exporter of buffalo meat, thanks to the recent ban imposed on the sale and transportation of live animals across the country.
Data compiled by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy showed India, Brazil and Australia together had 58.7 per cent of the world beef market in 2015, with India the highest at 23.5 per cent (up from 20.8 per cent in 2014), followed by Brazil and Australia.
However, effective May 26, the Union environment ministry imposed a ban on sale and purchase of cattle for slaughter at all animal markets.
It led to closure of slaughter houses, an already ongoing process - for instance, after the change in government of Uttar Pradesh earlier in the year, this was already happening.
“The entire work is at a standstill. After banning sale of live animals, their transportation has also been attacked by groups of people in various states.
So, not only sale and purchase but also slaughtering and export of buffalo meat has stopped. India has, therefore, lost almost the entire buffalo meat export market to Brazil, Australia and the US.
Of this, Brazil will gain the most,” said Arshad Ali Quddus, proprietor of Al Quddus Sons International, a Delhi-based buffalo meat exporter.
Data compiled by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda) showed India’s buffalo meat export at 1.33 million tonnes worth $3.93 billion for 2016-17, from 1.31 mt valued at $4.07 bn the previous year.
About half the export went to Vietnam, followed by Malaysia (10 per cent) and Egypt (eight per cent). Apeda says export declined by 11.4 per cent from a year before to 86,119 tonnes this April, first month of the 2017-18 financial year.
UP, with 28 per cent of the buffalo population, was the leading buffalo meat producing state, followed by Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
Of 41 slaughter houses in Maharashtra, says R R Kamble, deputy commissioner of animal husbandry at the Government of Maharashtra, only 11 Apeda-registered ones are operational.
The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court has stayed the central government’s banning of sale of live animals.
Hence, trading and slaughtering of animals in some parts still continues.
With the end of the Ramzan month, demand for buffalo meat has surged across the country, to Rs 220 a kg, around 40 per cent up from pre-ban days.
Photograph: Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters