Farmers in the district are ruing the day they decided to venture into the business of Emu farming, lured by the false promises of stupendous returns by a corporate.
Gurpreet Singh is one of those singed by the elaborate façade created around the Emu. Just over 18 months ago, the resident of Kila Naoun village of Faridkot ventured into the business, hopeful that he would recover his investment of Rs 8 lakh within a year or two. However, there are no buyers for either the Emu eggs or for the meat of the birds. The scamsters who had promised him returns have vanished.
"When I realised that I had been tricked, I found it very difficult to get rid of the birds, even for free. They were very expensive to feed and I could not bear the burden."
"We have been fooled. Most of the victims are well-educated people, who were carried away by the false claims and erred in judgement."
Another Emu farmer, Babu Singh Brar from Mora wali village said: "I have lost about Rs 12 lakh in this business. I had bought 40 pairs at Rs 20,000 per pair and another 40 at Rs 10,000 per pair. I had been given in writing the assurance of buying back birds and eggs by the firm which supplied me the birds."
"I still have about 70 birds on my farm. There is almost no buyer of Emu meat or eggs. I have to spend about Rs 40,000 per month on their feed."
"There was also some subsidy on offer by NABARD on Emu farming. I have received nothing."
Another emu farmer Sukhmander Singh from Matta village is still in wait-and-watch mode.
"I bought 30 birds two years ago and have sold a few eggs last year, but nothing can be said about this year."
Gurpreet Singh and Babu Singh claim that there is no market of emu meat or eggs here. Some clever people laid a trap in Punjab by bringing very cheap birds from Andhra Pradesh and sold them to the farmers.