Investors supported emu firms thinking they would get handsome returns

The measly amount that the auction of emus has been fetching in Erode makes one wonder what is wrong with the birds that once raked in huge investments. The flightless birds native to Australia are still reared by farmers in the U.S. for their meat and medicinal value of oil extracted from the fat.

According to P. Tensingh, Professor and Head, University Research Farm, Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, emu meat is 98 per cent fat free, and has health benefits.

Things went wrong because emu firms looked to make quick money and investors swallowed the bait that came in the form of handsome returns.

The rise and fall happened in just a decade since 2000 when commercial rearing of emus was started by Perundurai-based Susi farms.

The scam came to light in August 2012 when the firms terminated the monthly payments and also stopped supplying feed for the birds being taken care of by the investors.

People duped of their investments left the birds to wander and the emus started dying.

The president of the now defunct Tamil Nadu Emu Association R.A. Rajendirakumar said the scam led to poor demand even for the bird’s meat. It was with enormous difficulty that the Revenue department took care of about 10,000 emus confiscated from various farms.

In a few auctions that it conducted, the price quoted by the buyers caused shock and disappointment. But, the department had to sell the birds as there was no point in incurring a huge expense of maintenance.

In the auction conducted on Monday for the last batch of 4,600 birds, there were only two bidders. One quoted Rs.10 and the other Rs.36 per bird. After prolonged negotiations until Tuesday, the Revenue authorities tried to prevail upon both of them to team up and buy at Rs.50 a bird.

The bidders refused to do so, stating that they would be able to sell the meat at only Rs.40 a kg. Now, the administration had to distribute the meagre amount realised from the auction among the investors.