Guwahati: Northeast is home to a variety of lip-smacking pork dishes. Be it pork with bamboo shoot, smoked pork, pika pila pickle, pork with black sesame seed, pork bhorta, pork dry-fry, pork with anishi, the region loves pork.
But, do you think the production of pork aligns with the patterns of consumption in the Northeast? And to your surprise, no, the region doesn’t produce enough to meet the requirements and has to procure pork from other states such as Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
Northeast India consumes about 70 per cent of the country’s total pork production. According to the 2019 livestock census, Assam topped the list of the pig population in the nation. The state yielded around 21 lakh pigs out of India’s 90 lakh. Meghalaya had 7.1 lakh, while Nagaland and Mizoram had collectively produced 6.9 lakh pigs.
The administration officer of Assam Livestock & Poultry Corporation Dr P.N Konwar mentions several reasons that add up to the need for pork import from other parts of the country. Konwar highlights that one of the reasons is the unscientific backyard pig rearing practices which dominate 99 per cent of the state’s pork production.
“We are mostly on the backyard system of pig rearing. 99 per cent of the pig population is reared in the backyard and only around 1 per cent is reared in scientific housing systems. Most of the pigs are reared in low input technology and the pigs are fed the available household waste. That is why productivity is also too low in the state,” Konwar added.
However, Anabil Goswami, founder of Arohan Foods, the Northeast’s first piggery value chain start-up, does not concur with Konwar. He believes the production of pork would shoot up only if the number of pigs in backyard farming increases. Goswami says a monumental jump can be seen if the yield of pigs increases at every smallholder farm.
Moreover, livestock farming comes with a lot of challenges such as floods, African Swine Fever and many more. Manoj Basumatary, a banker-turned-pig rearer who runs one of Northeast India’s biggest private pig breeding farms, Symbiotic Food outlines the various challenges that pig rearers from the region have to face.
Basumatary said, “We would require different value chain components for the pig to become an industry, which our region lacks. For instance, other advanced countries use 11 to 12 vaccines for pigs but in India only 3 to 4 vaccines are available. The availability of veterinary services in the region is poor. Moreover, the cost of the feed plants are high and not available in the region.”
At a time when the region’s pork production is failing to meet the high consumption patterns, Assam is all set to get the country’s largest pork processing unit. The processing unit will be built for Rs 11.4 crore and will have the capacity of processing 400 pigs a day.
However, the question of when the region will see developments in making itself self-reliant in producing enough pork still lingers.
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