India's carabeef production on the rise

Growth tied to India's dairy sector
calendar icon 3 April 2024
clock icon 2 minute read

India’s carabeef, derived from the Asian domestic water buffalo, industry’s production is growing to meet both domestic and international market demand, according to a recent US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report. Expansion in carabeef production is tied to herd growth in India’s dairy sector.

At the same time, India prohibits the slaughter of live bovine dairy cattle (i.e., B. taurus and B. indicus), that is in all, but a handful states, which limits the slaughter to water buffalo.

FAS New Delhi estimates India’s MY 2024 carabeef production at 4.61 MMT (CWE), up by about 3% from 4.47 MMT in 2023. Post is attributing higher carabeef production numbers to the combination of a rise in slaughter numbers along with improving cattle body weights. With larger outlays of central government funding earmarked for improving animal health and nutrition, animal weights are on the rise.

The rising number of slaughter and meat processing facilities in India explains the upward trend in carabeef production. As on November 2023, there are 61 Integrated slaughter and meat processing plants, and 13 processing plants for carabeef. India is the largest producer of carabeef in the world. In addition to the modern processing facilities, the government approved slaughter plants meet domestic consumption needs. Over 50% of the government approved plants in India are Uttar Pradesh. The local municipal bodies are mandated to regulate operations of government slaughterhouse, sale of animals, and control of private slaughterhouses. Buffalo meat wholesalers and retailers purchase meat from the approved slaughterhouses against a license from municipal corporations.

Indian carabeef is a largely a byproduct of the dairy sector. The Asian water buffaloes that are spent – no longer produce milk, and unproductive – not fit for breeding, are slaughtered for meat. Buffaloes in India are not raised specifically for meat purpose. In 2010, a program called Salvaging and Rearing of Male Buffalo Calves (SRMBC) was introduced by the central government to boost buffalo rearing for slaughter. The farmers were to be provided subsidies to raise male buffaloes for meat. The intent was to maximise resource use and minimise mortality of uncared and abandoned male buffaloes. However, the program never took-off.

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