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  Opinion   Oped  04 Jun 2017  Malayali food-lovers, traders worry over beef uncertainty

Malayali food-lovers, traders worry over beef uncertainty

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Jun 4, 2017, 6:44 am IST
Updated : Jun 4, 2017, 6:45 am IST

The bulk of the 1.5 million cattle moving to Kerala every year come from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Beef-eating is of a very recent origin in Kerala, which is among few states that differentiate between beef and buffalo meat.
 Beef-eating is of a very recent origin in Kerala, which is among few states that differentiate between beef and buffalo meat.

Perhaps the only health tip that most Malayalis have ignored with abandon has been the warning that eating red meat leads to heart attacks and atherosclerosis. It is as if the doomsayers could wait. For proof, see the ubiquitous display of raw meat at public places across the state — a practice often flayed for its crassness.    

Beef-eating is of a very recent origin in Kerala, which is among few states that differentiate between beef and buffalo meat. Beef as a delicacy was mainly consumed by dalits, as upper caste elites in Hindu, Christian and Muslim communities largely stayed away from it.

The culinary trail shows Kerala, with nearly 600 km of shoreline and expansive backwaters, was more at home with fish. Meat-eating became a regular affair in most households only in the early 1990s, say culinary experts. But, since then beef has become an inevitable item on the menu of Malayali households.

Most governments would think twice before tinkering with a trade having a turnover of nearly $1 billion per year. So there is no wonder in Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan fuming at the Union government for its May 23 notification imposing curbs on the cattle trade. According to the Kerala chief minister, the state consumes 2.5 lakh tonne of beef every year, estimated to be worth Rs 6,552 crore, which is nearly $1 billion.    

The state is opposing the curbs imposed on cattle trade mainly on the apprehension that the new rule will hit the availability of cattle in the state as nearly 70 per cent of the requirement is met by importing animals from other states.

The bulk of the 1.5 million cattle moving to Kerala every year come from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

The state government is also worried that the fall in cattle would also hit the livelihood means of nearly 5 lakh persons engaged directly or indirectly with the meat trade.

Tags: beef, meat, pinarayi vijayan, malayali