The beef dealers association’s claim that 80% of meat sold as beef was from bullocks has led to concerns that buffalo meat will now be used as substitute to meet the shortfall. This will have direct repercussion, resulting in shortage of milch animals.
Nearly half of Mumbai’s daily milk requirement of 47 lakh litres comes from buffaloes.
Mohammad Qureshi, president, Mumbai Suburban Beef Dealer Association, said, “If we need to make buffalo meat the main supply for beef, we will require a large supply and dairy farmers will not comply.”
CK Singh, who runs a private dairy at Aarey Milk Colony, said, “Milk production across the country is more dependent on buffaloes than cows. The cost of an average buffalo is Rs 1 lakh. Aarey has nearly 16,000 buffaloes at present, of which nearly 5,000 are given away to abattoirs or villagers over a span of two years. Every year, we replace nearly 33% of water buffaloes.”
It takes 27 months for a dairy farmer to recover the amount to buy a buffalo and for its feeding in two stages of lactation. “In the third phase of lactation, our profit begins,” said Singh.
Depending on the breed of buffaloes, in every stage of lactation it produces nearly 1,800– 2,000 litres of milk. For the fourth lactation, dairy farmers sell the animal after which it either goes through pregnancy or a dry phase.
But if dairy farmers need buffaloes for a long period to make profits, where will the animals for the beef trade come from?
Pathan KA, deputy general manager at the municipal Deonar abattoir, said the cost of buffaloes will increase. “At the same time, what was once considered poor man’s meat will not be affordable to everyone,” he said.
Pathan, whoever, said milk production will not be affected by the ban. “Buffaloes will only come to us if they become unproductive [stop giving milk]. However, we are expecting all the buffaloes meant for export directly to come to us.”
Amar Pandit, a dairy farmer from Thane said Mehsana in Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab are the main centres for milch buffaloes. “The prices of the animals will increase by 20% to 30% because of this ban,” he said.