“It will definitely help to open up meat markets especially China, which is the biggest,” Priya Sud, a partner at buffalo meat exporting firm Al Noor Exports, in New Delhi, told Global Meat News.
Her comments followed the 31 May decision by the Indian Government to clear the allocation of funds to fully control FMD and brucellosis over the next five years and subsequently eradicate them.
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has reported FMD outbreaks in India in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Older detailed data released by India’s department of animal husbandry, dairies and fisheries, said that, between January and October 2016, there were 120 outbreaks of FMD in cattle, leading to about 9,000 individual cases and 422 deaths.
Brucellosis is also a serious problem, as it not only reduces milk production among dairy cattle but also causes infertility. Brucellosis infection can also be transmitted to farm workers and livestock owners.
The Government programme envisaged increasing medical treatment, vaccinating 300 million bovine livestock (cows and buffaloes), 200 million sheep and goats, and 10 million pigs against FMD every six months along with primary vaccination in bovine calves, said the government communiqué. The brucellosis control programme would start by vaccinating 36 million female calves, it said.
Siraj Hussain, a former top bureaucrat at the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, noted the need for action, given the Indian Government had been funding vaccination against FMD since 2003, but every year the disease caused about US$3bn-worth of economic losses. He said that, in the past, the Government had wanted to eradicate FMD and remove the need to rely on vaccination by 2020, “but now it is unlikely”, he told Global Meat News.
With the more aggressive disease control, Hussain predicted receipts from Indian meat exports would rise.
The prevalence of FMD in the country, for instance, has caused China to effectively ban Indian buffalo meat exports, although some parallel market trades via Vietnam do enter China, some Indian meat sector experts have claimed.
Illustrating the potential to maximise these exports, in the financial year ending March 2019, India exported 1.2 million tonnes of buffalo meat, worth US$3.6bn, and 22,000 tonnes of sheep and goat meat, worth US$125m, according to India’s Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).