(I) Discrimination Against Buffalo
(II) Buffalo as a Tool for Food Security and Rural Employment
(III) Price Parity with Cattle Beef
(IV) Organization of Meat Sector – Harmonization of Standards for Buffalo Meat
(V) Research and Development in Meat Sector
In India due to religious bias, cattle (cow and its progeny) are not slaughtered since the majority of Hindu community does not eat beef. Further, even the non-vegetarian population which consists of about 70% of meat eating population, and its products, eat meat only 2 or 3 times in a week. Therefore, Indians are considered to be vegetarian. Since buffalo meat is not consumed to the extent to which it has the potential, it is surplus for export unlike goat/sheep/poultry meat, which is consumed by all non-vegetarians. In order promote buffalo for meat production.
The following issues deserve serious consideration:
Buffalo is a great friend of man. It is not a draught animal only. It also gives milk and meat to the teeming millions at affordable prices. However, this animal has not been given its due place in the livestock sector. Paradoxically, it is discriminated against merely on account of its dark color. This is clear apartheid against buffalo in relation to its other cousins. On the other hand, it will not be an exaggeration if buffalo is recognized as black gold.
Buffalo if reared properly in hygienic environments, would provide food security and rural employment to the small and marginal farmer. This would be possible only if its byproducts are exploited ingenuously for benefit of mankind. Buffalo produces good quality of milk and meat. Its meat is lean, low in cholesterol and has excellent blending quality for production of corn beef, hot dogs and sausages.
The international prices of buffalo meat are low as compared to the cattle beef. On the contrary, the prices of buffalo meat should be higher as it is lean, has low cholesterol and there have been no incidence of BSE from any part of Asia in buffalo. When raised in feedlot on high protein/high energy diet, the buffalo meat is tender and juicy as that of beef.
There is need for harmonization of national standards for buffalo meat on the lines of beef.
Proper Organization of Cattle Markets
The meat animals are raised by the farmers, namely, sheep, goats, pigs etc. The farmers in small hold farming also raise the large animals. There are three stages through which the animal passes as has been shown in the figure below. At each stage, 15 – 25% cost is added till the animal reaches the slaughterhouse. This excludes the cost of transportation The surplus stock is sold to the primary trader in the village itself or it could be taken by the farmers to the weekly animal markets near the village where the secondary traders who are financially better off purchase the animals from the small collector. This trader also purchases the animals from the market to supply them to the main slaughterhouses for export. Usually, this should be the stage at which Municipal/State Government Veterinarian should carry out examination of each animal to ascertain that it is fit for slaughter and also fit for human consumption.
The Government ought to modernize the cattle markets where end users should have an access to the farmers’ animals rather than the involvement of the agents in between. There should be a weighbridge and purchase prices should be displayed. This will give proper price to the farmers.
In India, there are many research Institutions, namely, National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, and National Dairy Development Board, Pradeshik Dairy Development Federation etc. However, in meat there is none so far. Recently, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has established a National Research Center on Meat in Hyderabad. A good beginning has been made. However, it needs a full-fledged Research Institute on the lines of Dairy Institute, namely, NDRI, Karnal.