Live animals, umbrellas ignore tide of export fall

While India’s exports fell for a 17th straight month in April, those of live animals grew by about 400 per cent in 2015-16, according to data from the commerce department.

Outbound trade of live animals — including buffaloes, sheep, goat, pigs, bullock and poultry — was $68 million in 2015-16, compared with $12 million a year ago. Those in the trade predict the growth will sustain. While export of live cows or beef (defined as meat of cow, oxen or calf) is banned according to the Meat Export Policy, India is the world’s largest exporter of buffalo meat.

Sheep export exploded, to a little over $25 million, from barely $10,000 in 2014-15. “Sheep are being exported to the Gulf countries, particularly the United Arab Emirates, as exporters have received major contracts there,” said Meerut-based Mohammed Rizwan, director, India Frozen Foods. There are cost advantages here, he added.

Goats are also exported to West Asia, traditionally  the most exported live animal from India. In 2015-16, goat exports surged 281 per cent to $42 million, up from $11 million a year before. More than half of these were imported by the UAE alone.

The sudden rise last year was probably because goat meat is being recognised as a healthier option than sheep meat, a Maharashtra-based trader said. The large Indian expatriate population, as well as some members of the community who own a number of retail businesses selling goat meat in the UAE, have helped in popularising it, he added.

Nepal was another major goat importer. “While the number of goats exported to  the Gulf countries generally goes up before the month of Ramzan, exports last year happened throughout the year,” a commerce ministry official said.

Umbrella exports up Interestingly, another item that saw exponential rise in exports was umbrellas. Umbrella exports grew a little more than 900 per cent. Umbrella exports surged in 2015-16, earning foreign exchange worth $23 million, compared with $2.3 million in the previous year.

“While the Indian umbrella market is import-driven, this particular segment has found some takers in the Gulf countries, specifically the UAE,” said Balbir Joshi of Delhi-based Citizen Umbrella.

On the other hand, the domestic market, estimated at Rs 5,000 crore, is being flooded by cheaper Chinese products, he added. The major share of inbound Chinese umbrellas are for children and those in the folding category. Indian manufacturers are however, looking to increase the manufacture of garden umbrellas for export purposes, Sudhir Das from umbrella manufacturer Mohendra Dutt and Sons said. 

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