Thursday, July 14, 2005

Exploiting organic meat's potential in Rajasthan

Diversifying and expanding growth in animal husbandry, one of Rajasthan’s core competencies, the state is soon expected to begin production of certified organic meat. This is targeted at the health-conscious meat eater in India and the world, given the eco-friendly production methods used, and is also expected to please animal rights activists because of the relatively better treatment of livestock.

“Rajasthan has an advantage in producing certified organic meat because animal husbandry skills are already decentralised here and we have feed sources that are free from non-organic contamination,” said Mukesh Gupta, the Executive Director of the MR Morarka-GDC Rural Research Foundation. The foundation, which has taken up this project expects to touch an annual output of Rs 10 crore in the first year. Gupta added that Rajasthan, if fully tapped, could see that figure go up to as much as Rs 1,000 crore annually.

At the moment, the foundation is in the process of getting the animal farms certified and production of meat is expected to begin by the end of July. Organic milk production, on the other hand, has already begun and is being sent to institutional buyers in New Delhi. Deals have also been struck with firms in Thailand and in Hawaii to produce organic beef for the international market. While the foundation would be only involved in the production of the aforementioned, Kamyab Agri-Infotechnology Private Limited has been roped in for transportation and marketing of the produce. Besides meat and eggs, there are plans to begin organic pisciculture next year in the Kotara block in Udaipur where there are numerous lakes and ponds. “We missed certifying the water bodies as organic this season. That shall be done next year,” Gupta said.

The demand for organic meat and processed foods has leapfrogged in the west, buoyed by concerns over frequent reports of diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as ‘mad’ cow disease, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which are caused due to contamination in the food chain. The former, for instance, is widely thought to have been caused through the feeding of cattle with animal parts such as bones. Worse, in January this year a goat in France was confirmed to be the first animal in the world, other than a cow, to suffer from BSE. And with regular use of hormones and antibiotics to fatten animals, the scare just keeps growing.

Organic meat, on the contrary, requires the animal not to be exposed to any genetically modified food, abattoir waste, hormones, urea and even artificial colouring agents. Moreover, it needs the animal to be housed in conditions that allow “natural behaviour”, such as access to an “open-air exercise area” for mammals and “open-air run” for poultry. Slaughter rules prescribe a “minimum” slaughter age and transportation requires minimising the adverse effects of loading and unloading, among other protections.

One of my reports for Hindustan Times

2 Comments:

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