Pork can be India's cheap protein fix, claims study

Panaji: Eating pork could be a cheap protein fix for Indians and cultivation of rapidly multiplying pigs will boost income for rural farmers as well as increase exports, says a study in a souvenir published by the organisers of a right-wing science conclave.

Eknath Chakurkar, a principal scientist at the Goa unit of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), has in his article emphatically advocated a pork revolution of sorts in India, which he claims could be a one-shot solution for protein, revenue and foreign exchange.

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"Pig products such as pork, bacon, ham, sausages, lard, etc., are increasingly in demand both for local consumption and for export," the scientist said. Adopting scientific and modern techniques for pig-rearing will help supplement the income of rural Indian farmers, who are for now using unfruitful "old and traditional methods", he added.

"A major advantage of pig farming is that they can be fed on fibrous low quality agro byproducts and material that are not suitable for human consumption. Hence pig-rearing can be a lucrative source of income for rural farmers of India," Chakurkar said.

The study also said that pig production in India is growing at an annual rate of 1.25 percent, even as the consumption of pork has "greatly increased in recent years".

He has recommended two breeds specially suited to coastal regions including Goa, namely, the 'Large White Yorkshire' and the 'Agonda Goan'.

Pork is commonly available in Goa and consumed largely by the Catholic community, which accounts for 26 percent of the state's population, as well a small chunk of the majority Hindus, but the meat is regular fare in the state's coastal tourism-oriented belt, which annually attracts over half a million foreign tourists, mostly European.

The 'Vijnana Manthan' souvenir carrying the study has been released by Vijnana Bharti, which organized a swadeshi science conclave in Goa last week that discussed, among other things, studying of a cow as a bio-reactor and invisible radar-defying planes based on a book written by pre-Mahabharata sage Bharadwaj.

The editor of the souvenir, Sanjay Jahagirdar, has said that the Vijnana Bharti's "swadeshi science movement is carrying out numerous activities that enables stakeholders view science from the prism of Bharatiya".

Chakurkar has also said that the per capita meat consumption in India is as low as 14 grams per day against an actual requirement of 125 gm for a balanced diet. He has also cited exorbitant meat prices and non-availability of quality meat as the reasons for the dearth of meat in Indian meals.

"Looking to the meagre availability and tremendous demand of animal protein diet in India, it is felt that such demand could substantially be met by improving and multiplying pigs, mainly because of their prolifically, faster growth, efficiency of feed conversion and shorter generation intervals," Chakurkar said in his study.

Concluding his study, Chakurkar said that meat has become an integral part of human food and helps meet essential nutrients like protein, even though "non-availability of quality meat and its exorbitant prices have restricted meat consumption".

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