Impact of beef ban in Maharashtra on farmers..

Not surprised to see initial results of the ban. They are the opposite from the intended idea of preserving animals..

…..for farmers like Borhade, what the ban has done, more than anything else, is to kill the secondary market in animals. “There is simply no demand from either farmers or traders today because they’re not sure what to do when the cow stops giving milk or delivers a male calf”, he points out. Read: Female bovine bias Borhade’s complaint has some basis in the average trend of prices for animals at Loni in Rahata taluka of Ahmednagar district. Four-year-old cows producing 20 litres a day are currently fetching roughly Rs 45,000 at this weekly cattle market, the largest in northern Maharashtra.

A year ago, these rates averaged Rs 80,000 per animal. The same goes for bulls: Prices of four-year-old animals in good health have fallen from Rs 50,000 to Rs 30,000 in the last one year. “The ban has hit the business hard. The weekly turnover here, which used to be Rs 3-4 crore, is now down by half”, admits Uddhav Devkar, secretary of the Rahata agricultural produce market committee. The Loni market sees arrivals of about 5,000 animals every Wednesday, when it is held, of which 700-800 get bought. 

As the ban is on cow slaughter, demand for buffaloes has increased (these ideas are so basic, you don’t need economics to figure):

But the interesting part pertains to buffalo prices that, between now and last year, have actually risen from Rs 40,000 to 60,000 for four-year-old animals. However, since the Loni market largely deals in cattle, a more representative trend can be got from Ghodegaon in Ahmednagar’s Nevasa taluka. This market, about 80 km from Loni, specialises in buffaloes with a yearly turnover of over Rs 150 crore. Devdatta Palve, secretary of the market, informs that since the imposition of the tough anti-cattle slaughter law, prices of even 7-8 month-old male calves have gone up from Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000. Gollu Seth, a trader in Pune’s Manchar and Chakan markets, confirms the same trend for adult buffaloes. Their price has risen from Rs 40,000 to Rs 70,000.

This, he claims, has happened “because today only buffaloes are allowed to be slaughtered for beef”. For farmers in Maharashtra, the collapse in milk prices on top of back-to-back droughts has only compounded matters. While in the past, sale of animals acted as an insurance of sorts during droughts, the beef ban has rendered even that a loss-making proposition. Vikram Mokal, who farms four acres at Jatpade village in Malegaon taluka of Nashik district, has, in the last 10 months, sold 3 of his five cows at the Loni market. “Not only have my crops failed successively, but the droughts have also made green fodder hard to get. Un-remunerative milk prices added to that has left me with no option but to sell my animals to meet immediate needs”, he notes.

But for Mokal, too, the beef ban has only added insult to injury: “I sold two of my cows for Rs 20,000 each and the last one at Rs 25,000. All the three were young milk-yielding animals that should ordinary have fetched Rs 60,000-plus”. Haji Badaruddin Pirzade, a cattle trader at Loni who has been in the business for 20 years, says that it was an established practice for farmers to change their cows every 4-5 years once their milk yields per lactation cycle had reduced. They, then, sold these in exchange for younger cows giving more milk. Old and infirm animals, especially bulls, were also sold to traders, who, in turn, supplied them to slaughter houses.

Since the ban has come into place, this trade – essential for sustaining the farmers’ own dairying operations through regular replacement of old with new productive animals – has practically stopped. “Farmers are no longer coming to the market for buying new animals. I used to sell more than 10 cows a day, but now I am lucky to even sell two. Prices of bullocks (oxen) have also hit rock-bottom: A healthy pair that would earlier fetch Rs 40,000-45,000 now sell at just Rs 10,000. And desperate farmers are driving down the market further”, observes Pirzade. With the secondary market for cattle finished, farmers in many areas of Maharashtra, struggling to procure water and fodder amidst drought, are resorting to abandoning their old and infirm animals. Alternatively, they are simply letting them die in their households. 

On reading this, most economics students will say — told ya!

Both buffaloes and cows must be cursing the govt, the former for surge in demand and latter for decline..


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