New lease of life for Emu farmers

March 29, 2015 12:00 am | Updated 05:57 am IST - VIJAYAWADA:

It is no longer an endless struggle for Emu farmers in the State. They were in doldrums a few years ago, and most of them had given up the vocation and moved on.

However, some managed to continue, thanks to help from LB Processors, a US company, and they have now reached breakeven.

In line with a five-year contract between LB Processors and Emu Farmers Cooperative, the former will provide specialty oil to cosmetic and dietary supplement industries. It will also refine emu oil supplied to it by farmers before offering it to cosmetic industry.

LB Processors founder president Paul Binford and chief operating officer Caleb Binford, a father-son team, said they would buy a minimum of 12,000 gallons and a maximum of 20,000 gallons of oil a year from the oil extraction facility owned by the cooperative at Agiripalli in Krishna district.

Emu Farmers’ Cooperative Company CMD M.R. Rao Prasad said farmers had been struggling feed birds owing to financial constraints a couple of years ago. With bankers abandoning them, most farmers moved to other vocations. However, a group of 16 farmers, with the help of CMI, a consultant, set up a quality extraction unit and worked out a way to air-lift emu oil to the United States in May 2013.

They have exported 18,350 gallons (68,730 litres) of oil since then, Mr. Rao Prasad said. CMI US director Rajan Eadara said LB Processors made use of an all-natural process to refine the oil. Meanwhile, the number of emu farmers in the cooperative has gone up from 16 to 40.

The cooperative also plans to sell ready-to-cook frozen meat shortly. “There is a growing market for emu skin also, and, in future, the cooperative is planning to sell cosmetics made from emu oil,” Mr. Rao Prasad said.

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