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Can Pork Consumption Fix India’s Cheap Protein Link?

19 May 2015

INDIA - Research suggests that pork consumption can solve India’s cheap protein link and cultivation of rapidly multiplying pigs will boost income for rural farmers as well as increase exports.

The paper was released by Vijnana Bharati, a Swadeshi conclave event in Goa recently was authored by Eknath Chakurkar, a principal scientist at the Goa unit of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR).

In this study, Chakurkar advocated a pork revolution of sorts in India, which he claims could be a one-shot solution for protein, revenue and foreign exchange. Pig products such as pork, bacon, ham sausages, lard, etc., are increasingly in demand both for local consumption and for export," Chakurkar said.

Adopting scientific and modern techniques for pig-rearing will help supplement the income of rural Indian farmers, who are for now using unfruitful "old and traditional methods", Chakurkar adds.

A major advantage of pig farming is that they can be fed on fibrous low quality agro byproducts and material that are not suitable for human consumption. Hence pig-rearing can be a lucrative source of income for rural farmers of India, Chakurkar stressed.

The study also said that pig production in India is growing at an annual rate of 1.25 per cent, even as the consumption of pork has "greatly increased in recent years. His paper, Chakurkar recommended that two breeds specially suited to coastal regions including Goa, namely, the Large White Yorkshire and the Agonda Goan.

The conclave also discussed other things that includes, studying of a cow as a bio-reactor and invisible radar-defying planes based on a book written by pre-Mahabharata sage Bharadwaj. Chakurkar has also said that the per capita meat consumption in India is as low as 14 grams per day against an actual requirement of 125 gm for a balanced diet.

He has also cited exorbitant meat prices and non-availability of quality meat as the reasons for the dearth of meat in Indian meals. Looking to the meager availability and tremendous demand of animal protein diet in India, it is felt that such demand could substantially be met by improving and multiplying pigs, mainly because of their prolifically, faster growth, efficiency of feed conversion and shorter generation intervals, Chakurkar said.

Concluding his study, Chakurkar said that meat has become an integral part of human food and helps meet essential nutrients like protein, even though non-availability of quality meat and its exorbitant prices have restricted meat consumption. In 2013, the panel discussion on "Adapting to Change: The Role of Animal Protein in Feeding a Hungry World”, Balram Singh Yadav, Managing Director of Godrej Agrovet said that in 2012, India produced 7.5 million tonnes of animal-sourced protein, including milk, meat and eggs, but only 4.5 million tonnes from vegetable sources other than cereals. As India becomes richer and its middle class expands, we are seeing rapid growth of the animal protein industry.

Though our per capita consumption of animal protein is much lower than the world average, it is rising rapidly. In the past five years, 37 per cent of agricultural growth output came from animal protein, Yadav said. According to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) India’s pig population is 13.4 million as per the 2012-13 annual report of Animal Husbandry.

Pork production in India is limited, representing only 7 per cent of the country’s animal protein sources. Production is concentrated mainly in the northeastern corner of the country and consists primarily of backyard and informal sector producers. The pig farming constitutes the livelihood of rural poor belonging to the lowest socio-economic strata and they have no means to undertake scientific pig farming with improved foundation stock, proper housing, feeding and management.

Therefore, suitable schemes to popularize the scientific pig breeding cum rearing of meat producing animals with adequate financial provisions are necessary to modernise the Indian pig industry and to improve the productivity of small sized rural pig farms. In view of the importance of pig farming in terms of its contribution to rural poor and possible potentials for pig rearing in our country, Government of India has initiated measures to promote the pig farming on scientific lines under its five year plans.

In order to make available good foundation stock 115 pig breeding farms were established throughout the country. Pig has got highest feed conversion efficiency i.e. they produce more live weight gain from a given weight of feed than any other class of meat producing animals except broilers. Pig can utilise wide variety of feed stuffs viz. grains, forages, damaged feeds and garbage and convert them into valuable nutritious meat.

However, feeding of damaged grains, garbage and other unbalanced rations may result in lower feed efficiency. They are prolific with shorter generation interval. A sow can be bred as early as 8-9 months of age and can farrow twice in a year.

They produce 6-12 piglets in each farrowing. Pig farming requires small investment on buildings and equipment and is known for their meat yield, which in terms of dressing percentage ranges from 65 - 80 in comparison to other livestock species whose dressing yields may not exceed 65 per cent.

It provides quick returns since the marketable weight of fatteners can be achieved with in a period of six to eight months. Pork is most nutritious with high fat and low water content and has got better energy value than that of other meats.

It is rich in vitamins like thiamin, Niacin and riboflavin. Pigs store fat rapidly for which there is an increasing demand from poultry feed, soap, paints and other chemical industries and its manure is widely used as fertilizer for agriculture farms and fish ponds.

There is good demand from domestic as well as export market for pig products such as pork, bacon, ham, sausages, lard etc. As per National Research Centre on Pig (NRCP), among the animal husbandry, piggery not only acts as an insurance coverage for the rural poor, but also it can contribute significantly in narrowing the growing demand for animal protein.

Pork is the most popular meat consumed in the world today and about 46 per cent of the world meat consumption is derived from pork and pork products. Despite the significant potential for pigs to contribute to the improvement of livelihood of rural poor and also to meet the demand for animal protein, pig population in India is considerably low.

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