Cash Buffalo

Dairy Buffaloes confined in a shed.  Photo by Wan Park.

Dairy Buffaloes confined in a shed. Photo by Wan Park.

Last week,  I came across this article in The Hindu that the  government is considering a proposal to invest 300 crore rupees (~$60 million USD) to rear male buffaloes for meat export.

“Under the scheme, male buffalo calves will be rescued particularly from the big cities and reared in villages, the official said, adding that this would not only lead to retaining of genetic material but also boosting buffalo meat export.

Farmers will be given incentives for rearing male buffalo calves and provided back-end linkage with export-oriented slaughter houses to buy these animals, the official said.”

This plan was outlined a few years back here by  Dr. S. K. Ranjhan who coined it the “Pink Revolution.” The White Revolution was for dairy in India, but the two are related.  Male buffaloes like male calves are often discarded on the streets by the dairy industry.  Sometimes they are killed at birth.

India is the world’s largest producer of dairy with 280 million cows and buffaloes.  However, this industry is vulnerable.  In another article in The Hindu, it mentions India’s contingency plan to import skim milk powder, due to low yields in the summer season due to high temperatures, heat stress and export subsidies in other countries.

Recently I’ve been traveling around north India seeing many buffaloes on the street and in small dairies.  They are not protected like the sacred cow against slaughter (though many people have told me illegal cow slaughter  is rampant). ‘Spent’ dairy buffaloes and male calves, are sold to “middlemen” and manually slaughtered.

After reading a number of articles on food security, water shortages and farmers waiting for truant rains in India, it seemed the environmental and social implications of this scheme has not been fully examined.

What does it mean when once sacred animals become cash cows and buffaloes?


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~ by sangamithra on August 9, 2009.

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