BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, it seems, was on the mark when he said the only revolution happening in UPA-ruled India was the ‘pink revolution’, a euphemism for the meat business. The country, where eating beef is a sensitive religious issue, has become the biggest beef exporter in the world, beating Brazil.
This is as per the latest meat exports figures from the Ministry of Food Processing. The data shows that India exported 1.89 million tonnes of beef in 2012-2013, which is a 50 per cent increase over five years ago.
Poultry exports have gone up too. The country exported 3.5 million tonnes of poultry last fiscal, a 6 per cent hike over the previous year, putting India in the third place after the US and Brazil.
Figures show that export earnings from meat have touched Rs 21,000 crore in 2012-2013. The major markets for Indian meat are to be found in the US, Europe, the Gulf and South-East Asian countries.
“It is a fact that the government is giving increased attention to introducing international standards in meat production. Our department has played a crucial role and we are happy about it,’’ says an official with the Department of Animal Husbandry.
According to him, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), is out to improve the quality and safety requirements for both the domestic market and the export industry. In the last one year, APEDA has approved 170 integrated abattoirs, slaughterhouses and meat processing plants across the country, apart from announcing subsidies worth `15 crore to the modernizing of abattoirs.
Even the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) acknowledges that the government has played a crucial role in enhancing meat production and export. “While a larger herd supports an increase in beef production, government programmes also encourage production. For instance, the ‘Salvaging and Rearing of Male Buffalo Calves Scheme’ and the ‘Utilization of Fallen Animals’ improved carcass utilization programmes were incorporated in the government’s 11th Five Year Plan (2007-2012) and will also be in included in the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-2017),’’ USDA said in its annual report.
Uttar Pradesh is the biggest producer of meat, especially beef, while Kerala is the biggest consumer. Cow slaughter is banned in most Indian states, including Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan. It is legal only in Kerala, West Bengal and the north-eastern states.
“Officially, the slaughter of cows is banned and beef production is actually buffalo meat. Here too, the slaughter is restricted to males and unproductive females,’’ explains the Department of Animal Husbandry official.
But he accepts that there are instances of cow meat being labelled buffalo meat only to be renamed once it reaches its destination. When asked about Modi’s allegation about the UPA government’s ‘secret agenda for export of beef’, the official says: “There is no secret. All schemes are announced openly.’’