Even as an anti-cattle slaughter sentiment gets violent in many parts of the country, the southern state of Kerala has once again proven that it holds its meat dear.
Aswin J Kumar reports for The Times of India that Kerala has topped the list on cattle slaughter in the year 2015-2016. According to an integrated sample survey conducted by the Union ministry of animal husbandry, 11.7 lakh adult cattle and 69,170 young cattle were slaughtered in Kerala in 2015-16.
With this, the state of Bihar, that once held the top position was pushed to the second place, the report says. As opposed to Kerala, Bihar saw 4.09 adult cattle and 2 lakh young cattle being slaughtered between 2015-2016.
According to the report, cattle slaughter in Kerala has tripled since 2009, when 4.98 lakh cattle were slaughtered.
An official with AHD told TOI: “A major share of Kerala's population comprises meat eaters. Unlike other states, where cattle slaughter has dropped over the years, Kerala is free from any kind of taboo associated with consumption of cattle meat. There is a steady inflow of unproductive cows from neighbouring states like Tami Nadu and Karnataka to Kerala."
In the last few years, the buffalo slaughter figures for Kerala has even doubled. TOI reports:
"In 2015-16, 9.38 lakh buffaloes were slaughtered in Kerala, nearly equalling Punjab's figure of 9.39 lakh. When compared with 2009 10, the quantity of buffaloes being slaughtered in Kerala has more than doubled, the figures have leapfrogged from 4.1lakh in 2009-10 to 9.38 lakh in 2015-16."
The report also states that though the cattle slaughter figures have increased over the years, it does not necessarily mean that the production of livestock in the state is also on the rise. Most of the cattle being slaughtered in Kerala come from other states, the report says.
While Kerala's place in terms of meat production in the country has come down from sixth position to the seventh, AHD director N N Sasi was quoted as saying that there is a shift to consuming more non-vegetarian food, especially in the wake of pesticide-induced vegetables coming into the market.
In the year 2011, Kerala emerged as the highest consumer of meat. According to a report published by The Hindu, the daily requirement had touched 5000 tonnes. On the eating habits of the people in the state, Animal Husbandry Director R. Vijayakumar had then commented that 80 per cent of the population was non-vegetarian.
Kerala was at fourth position in buffalo meat production during the year 2013-2014,after Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab. According to the data available with the government, the total production of buffalo meat in Kerala was 93.41 thousand tonnes (8% of total buffalo meat production in India) during 2013-14.
A study conducted by Journal of Dairy, Veterinary & Animal Research in 2016 sheds light into the eat production pattern over the past two decades. According to the data, 35324 thousand metric tonnes of meat was produced in 1995-1996. While this figure almost doubled in 2005-2006 with the state producing 55923 thousand MT of meat, the figures stood at 241956.64 thousand MT in 2011-2012.
According to the study, Kerala is one of the most meat consuming states in India. It is considered that 70 per cent of the human population is highly inclined to non-vegetarian food items, especially during festivals. As a result, the meat production in Kerala is showing a significant increase from 1995 to 2012.