August 30, 2013
India has become world's top exporter of buffalo meat in 2012-13 with exports grew at 15% per annum during the last 10 years, and value at US$3.2 billion in 2012-13.
The commodity has been in top three exports items in agricultural commodity basket and this year it could be a tough competition to basmati rice in becoming top exporting agricultural item.
The exports growing at 15% per annum in last decade and was US$3.2 billion in 2012-13 and this year in April-May it was US$578 million as per data compiled by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).
However, India's export potential is actually opening up now as Brazil, another major meat supplier to the world, is facing issues in exporting while China's demand is rising and India and China has signed an MOU to export buffalo meat directly to China which otherwise was routed through Vietnam.
Exports are rising but since last few months, according to the Rabobank market analyst, "China stopped buying beef from Brazil due to a non-classical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) case, only eight plants were authorised to export to China out of a total of more than 200 federally inspected plants in Brazil."
With fall in Brazil's exports, India is penetrating in their market. India exported 1.1 million tonnes in 2012-13. India's export realisation in terms of price was average US$2,900 per 10 in 2012-13 has been quoted now at US$3,200 and expectations are that in coming months it will cross US$3,500 with fall in Brazil's exports and China's growing demand.
While Vietnam has been the single largest buyer of Indian meat with 30% share followed by Malaysia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Philippines each having 7-11% share in total exports. However list of importing countries is as big as 85 countries.
Exports to Vietnam are mostly to meet Chinese demand. Buffalo meat passes through a small process for use by Chinese. Aspi Dinshaw, chief general manager of Al Kabeer exports said that, "efforts are now being made to increase direct exports to china."
Following Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to India, China and India signed a memorandum of understanding on buffalo imports in May 2013. This means that buffalo meat from India will enter the Chinese market through official channels in the near future. An official delegation is visiting China soon to sort out procedural issues.
The meat exporting industry which utilising only unproductive buffalo livestock, has set up most modern state of the art integrated abattoirs with quality control laboratories, has been able to motivate modernising abattoirs which works for domestic supply also.
Modern abattoirs apart from processing meat also make better use of hide and skins of buffalos on which leather industry, which again one of the major export commodity, thrives. Apart from skins, which are supplied to tanneries, rendered products are supplied to poultries as feed.
Rashid Kadimi, president of All India Meat and Livestock Exporters Association (AIMLEA) said that, "India has 50% of world's buffalo population which as per latest census of 2007 it was 105.34 million. This is at a time when India has emerged as largest milk producing country in the world." He said, "Milk production increased because of increase in productive milch buffaloes and decrease in unproductive culled buffalos as buffaloes removed from the system improves efficiencies of the system." Management of cattle, fodder et cetera is possible only due to that.
Most of the buffaloes and meat are procured from places like Hyderabad, Aligarh, Aurangabad, UP, Punjab etc. Dealing in exports of this meat is not easy as apart from normal commercial laws applicable to all businesses, there are special 18 different laws governing exports of buffalo meat.
According to Rashid Kadimi, "there is a need to stop illegal exports of livestock cattle from India which is far higher than meat exports." He said it is estimated that US$5 billion worth cattle is smuggled from India to Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal and from there to other destinations.