BENGALURU: If halal meat is boycotted, as is being demanded by Hindu organisations, it will lead to similar consequences as the ban on cow slaughter did. It will impact the livelihoods of farmers severely, warned experts.Dr Sylvia Karpagam, a public health researcher who recently released a report on the effects of beef ban in Karnataka, said livestock farmers are currently in dire straits as they are unable to repay loans with other farmers hesitating to buy cattle from them.
“The biggest fear for goat, sheep and poultry farmers is the involvement of bigger corporations and introduction of middlemen. Local tradesmen have been reasonable over buying animals, but middlemen could rob them of all profits,” she told TNIE.
Dr Rajeswari Shankar, a veterinary doctor volunteering to train farmers in rural areas and president of the Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Karnataka (AWAKE), said in goat and sheep trade, the majority involved in the supply chain, including transportation and butchering, are Muslims.
“If there is a boycott, farmers will definitely be affected. Tradesmen will prefer not buying from Muslim traders, and cater to their own communities. With most of those involved in the supply chain from the Muslim community, farmers will have to struggle hard and lowball their offers as the meat trade is time sensitive,” she told TNIE.
She said that a majority of farmers are labour class and are usually nomadic, landless or smallholding farmers. “A majority of farmers take part in the cattle, sheep, goat and poultry trade, but the few that are only involved in goat and sheep farming are seasonal farmers hailing from poorer backgrounds,” she said.
She said seasonal farmers often raise livestock as a source of income. The initial reaction of a halal boycott could lead to farmers selling their animals for reduced prices, or sell their livestock to loansharks to clear off their loans without any bargaining power, she said. Majority of farmers come from lower castes and economic backgrounds, she added.
Cattle farmers too fare facing similar problems since beef was banned last year. “Many farmers are from OBCs and have had difficulty paying back loans. They’re especially in dire straits, having to turn to other methods to sell cattle and cutting prices,” Dr Karpagam said. She also claimed that veterinary doctors have used the ban to fleece farmers to issue relevant documents, since sick animals mean a source of income for vets