Industry

A ‘pink revolution’ quietly takes shape in Maharasthra

High quality pork to benefit farmers, consumers

A ‘pink revolution’ is quietly taking shape in Maharashtra. The objective is to breed imported pigs to address the problem of protein deficiency in a sizeable section of the population that has been deprived of access to affordable meat besides providing livelihood to farmers.

Mumbai-based Gargi Genetics Pvt. Ltd., supported by the Maharashtra government’s policy, is gearing up to create an ecosystem for supply of high quality pork.

The company is planning to partner with farmers by supplying them pigs imported from Canada. They would be bred under hygienic conditions for production of high quality meat.

Many consumers stay away from consuming pork as local pigs are mostly bred under unhygienic conditions.

Gargi Genetics is planning to address this concern through supply of hygienic pork produced from imported breeds in clean environment and is launching an education campaign.

The company plans to build a fully-equipped international-standard piggery that would support animal husbandry, food and medical industry.

While it would create a comprehensive value chain for pork production, it would also supply high quality animals for medical and research industry (organ transplant and insulin), top officials said.

In five years, over 1,000 Maharashtra farmers, in a cooperative format, are expected to learn about commercial animal farming with international best practices. Other States such as Punjab, Kerala and North Eastern States do have pig-related policies but Maharashtra’s policy supports international imported pig breeding for maximising output.

The project has been mooted by finance professional Sandeep Mestry and genetics healthcare exponent Nitin Malekar who have been working on this for years. They had achieved a litter (number of offspring) size of 10 to 14, which is probably the best under Indian conditions.

Profitable idea

“Commercial pig farming in India for meat production is one of the best and profitable business ideas. But the main issue is Indian pig breeds are not suitable for high quality pork production.

“So, we decided to select high quality meat producing pig breeds available around the globe,” said Dr. Malekar, director, Gargi Genetics.

“We studied breeds from various countries and zeroed in on three pig breeds from Canada, which are the most suitable for commercial meat production according to the weather and climatic conditions of India,” he added.

In Maharashtra, currently pig farming is highly unorganised with 80% of the animals being reared by small farmers with very low-input/output ratio. The typical pig farm comprises a simple pigsty and feeding comprises agricultural by-products and predominantly kitchen waste. Recently, Maharashtra had taken many initiatives in animal husbandry and piggery development to boost pig farming.

Indian pork is sold at about ₹250 per kg compared with international quality processed pork which is sold at ₹1,200- 3,000 per kg.

“The need of the hour is genetically superior quality animals, to enhance the farmer’s potential, meet consumers’ demand for safe and healthy meat and health industry’s requirement for quality animals. It is an industry with huge potential,” Dr. Malekar said.

The ‘pink revolution’ targets to produce five lakh high quality pigs over a period of 5-6 years.

“Pink revolution’ plans to offer ‘farm to market’ solution. We are planning to initiate a franchisee chain of signature shops/eateries to promote healthy pork products.We will also use public education channels to spread awareness about the pork meat and its benefits. We strive to change the public image of pork and bring quality products to the consumer’s kitchen,” Dr. Malekar said.

The project is also supported by pig breeding specialist from Canada Alfred Wahl of Polar Genetics and Canadian Pig Association. which would help with pig breeding, raising, marketing and business development.

The initiative is scheduled to be officially kicked off in the second quarter of 2019 and the company is in process of raising $2 million in equity funding in phase I.

The company had already acquired land in Wada in Palghar district of Maharashtra to start the project.

Pork is widely eaten in the world and 40% of the world’s total meat consumption comprises pork.

With an annual production of around 6.5 million tonnes, India ranks fifth in the world in meat production and bovine meat contributes about 40% of this. The contribution of pork is only 3.5% compared with 9.36% from goat meat and more than 36% from poultry. The pink revolution is expected to take this number higher shortly.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2020 10:18:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/pink-revolution/article26168901.ece

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