Meat Industry in India

The meat industry handles the slaughtering, processing, packaging, and distribution of animals such as poultry, cattle, pigs, sheep and other livestock.

While India has an abundant supply of meat, the meat processing industry is still emerging. Meat processing covers a spectrum of products from sub-sectors comprising animal husbandry and poultry farms, to bulk frozen meat, chilled and deli meat, packaged meat, and ready-to-eat processed meat products. In the present scenario, there is a large scope for meat processing in poultry as well as in red meat. In fact, the poultry industry has made considerable progress by developing and marketing value-added products.

Thus, the Pink revolution (refers to the modernization or technological revolutions of the meat and poultry processing sector in India) is still a task in the making in India.

Current scenario

  • According to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), India’s buffalo meat exports have fallen 9% in 2018-19 from a year ago to the lowest level in six years.
  • The present meat consumption per capita of around 6 grams per day will improve to 50 grams a day in the next decade or so. When such phenomenal increase in meat consumption occurs, the sector will witness a tremendous growth.
  • Despite India’s large livestock population, India accounts only around 2 percent of global market.
  • China had stopped buying Indian meat on fear of the foot and mouth disease a few years ago.
  • Exporters said the devaluation of currencies of Brazil and Argentina had also made Indian supplies less competitive.
  • China was a bulk consumer a few years ago and there was a safety net for the industry in terms of consistent volume of trade.

Potential of meat industry

  • India is having a good potential for meat production because of large livestock population.
  • About 20.5 million people depend upon livestock for their livelihood.
  • Livestock contributed 16% to the income of small farm households as against an average of 14% for all rural households.
  • Livestock provides livelihood to two-third of rural community.
  • It also provides employment to about 8.8 % of the population in India. India has vast livestock resources.
  • Livestock sector contributes 4.11% GDP and 25.6% of total Agriculture GDP.

Export potential

  • The meat industry is slowly yet steadily catching pace on the global front also as India exports both frozen and fresh chilled meat to more than 60 countries of the world.
  • Meat exported from India is risk-free, lean, nutritious and competitively priced meat.
  • It has resulted in consistent, high compound growth rate in the export volumes.
  • The major item of export includes de-boned and de-glanded frozen buffalo meat, which accounts for 97 per cent of the total meat export.
  • The major market for Indian buffalo meat is Malaysia and Egypt and for sheep and goat meat are UAE, Iran and Jordan.
  • India also exports a small quantity of processed meat to Thailand, Yemen, and Japan and poultry products to Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar.
  • Uttar Pradesh state has emerged as the major exporter of buffalo meat followed by Punjab and Maharashtra.
  • The value addition to slaughterhouse by products generate additional income as well as the costs of disposing of by products can be minimized.
  • There is huge potential in this sector for economic development of country through increasing exports so the policy makers should adopt critical measures at every stage to encourage and support this vital segment of the Indian agriculture.


  • Productivity of farm animals:
    • It is one of the major challenges.
    • The average annual milk yield of Indian cattle is 1172 kg which is only about 50 per cent of the global average.
  • Diseases and infections of livestock:
    • The frequent outbreak of infections like the foot and mouth disease, black quarter infection, and influenza severely impacts livestock health and lowers productivity.
  • Feed & Fodder issues:
    • Livestock derives a major part of their energy requirement from agricultural by-products and residues. Hardly 5% of the cropped area is utilized to grow fodder. India is deficit in dry fodder by 11%, green fodder by 35% and concentrates feed by 28%. The common grazing lands too have been deteriorating quantitatively and qualitatively.
  • Greenhouse gas generation:
    • The generation of greenhouse gases by the humongous population of herbivorous animals in India.
    • Reducing the emissions through mitigation and adaptation strategies is a major challenge.
  • Breeding issues: 
    • Crossbreeding of indigenous specieswith exotic stocks to enhance the genetic potential of different species has been successful only to a limited extent.
    • Crossbreeding of indigenous species with exotic stocks to enhance genetic potential of different species has been successful only to a limited extent.
    • Limited Artificial Insemination services owing to a deficiency in quality germplasm, infrastructure and technical manpower coupled with poor conception rate following artificial insemination have been the major impediments.
  • Health and occupational hazards:
    • Unregulated meat markets, tropical climate, inadequate slaughterhouse hygiene measures, and the lack of surveillance of meat-borne diseases enhance the risk of health-related and occupational hazards.
    • According to reports, there are about 8000 registered and more than 20,000 unregistered slaughterhouses in the country and most of them are devoid of basic amenities like light and ventilation.
    • Moreover, the slaughtering and carcass-dressing processes are performed in open areas in highly unhygienic conditions following which the meat is sold with little or no veterinary inspection.
  • Unorganized sector:
    • The meat production segment is largely unorganized. Traditional production systems and disorderly practices have spoilt the reputation of the Indian meat industry.
    • Except for poultry products and to some extent for milk, markets for livestock and livestock products are underdeveloped, irregular, uncertain and lack transparency. Further, these are often dominated by informal market intermediaries who exploit the producers.
  • slaughtering facilities are too inadequate:
    • About half of the total meat production comes from un-registered, make-shift slaughterhouses. Marketing and transaction costs of livestock products are high taking 15-20% of the sale price.
  • Financial issues:
    • Livestock sector did not receive the policy and financial attention it deserved. The sector received only about 12% of the total public expenditure on agriculture and allied sectors, which is disproportionately lesser than its contribution to agricultural GDP.
    • The sector has been neglected by the financial institutions.
    • The share of livestock in the total agricultural credit has hardly ever exceeded 4% in the total (short-term, medium-term and long-term). The institutional mechanisms to protect animals against risk are not strong enough.
  • Insurance:
    • Currently, only 6% of the animal heads (excluding poultry) are provided insurance cover. Livestock extension has remained grossly neglected in the past.
    • Only about 5% of the farm households in India access information on livestock technology. These indicate an apathetic outreach of the financial and information delivery systems.

Measures needed

  • A national breeding policy is needed to upgrade the best performing indigenous breeds.
  • Measures should be taken to increase the meat production efficiency of different species of animals using the improved management practices.
  • Adoption of improved shelter management practices can reduce the environmental stress.
  • New breeds should be developed for meat production with higher feed conversion efficiency, faster growth and disease resistant.
  • Health management practices should be followed for prevention of diseases and economic loss to the farmers.
  • Regular prophetic health measures should be carried out against infectious diseases.
  • Regular screening of animals should be carried out against disease such as tuberculosis, brucellosis, salmonellosis etc.
  • The livestock market yard should have basic facilities for feeding, watering and holding animals for days.
  • By vertical integration with meat processing industries the middle men can be eliminated, which will ultimately increase the profit of farmers.
  • There is need for modernizing the quality control laboratories of the State Government, apart from need for strict laboratory inspection of meat and meat products, training programs for meat workers regarding hygiene and sanitation need to be organized regularly.
  • Modernization of abattoirs, setting up of rural abattoirs and registration of all slaughter houses in cities/towns are essential for quality meat production.
  • The setting up of large commercial meat farms have been recommended to address the traceability issues necessary for stringent quality standards of CODEX.

Way forward

  • In a report titled the ‘Indian Meat Industry Perspective’, the FAO outlined four steps that should be taken if India’s food industry is to successfully go pink. These recommended steps were:
    • setting up state of the art meat processing plants;
    • developing technologies to raise male buffalo calves for meat production;
    • increasing the number of farmers rearing buffalo under contractual farming;
    • establishing disease-free zones for rearing animals.
  • Production of good quality animals for slaughter is essential for the production of good quality meat. Hence, farmers’ cooperative can play a major role in the field of production and marketing of quality animals, extension education and encouragement of backward integration/contract farming.
  • Cold chain infrastructure to store the processed meat should be developed at town levels.
  • Maintain food safety at all stages of production, processing, packing, storage and marketing of meat and meat products, and adherence to standards which are prescribed by the importing countries.
  • Priorities must be given to address the myths prevalent among the public regarding meat consumption and diseases with proper extension programmes.
  • Meat processing and value addition are key to the prosperity of the meat industry. The awareness regarding the processed meats and the convenience to the consumers and households should be improved.
  • In general, meat sold in India is in unpacked form. Meat is packed only in certain organized meat factories. For sanitary and secure delivery of the meat and various value-added meat products through the various stages of processing, storage, transport, distribution and marketing, the packaging is of utmost importance.
  • It is, therefore, necessary to establish modern slaughter-houses to bring improvements in meat-handling practices, recovery and proper utilization of by-products, waste treatments for pollution control to reorganize.
  • There is also a need to strengthen the meat industry on scientific line to provide wholesome and safe meat to domestic consumption as well as to play a substantial role in international meat trade/market.

Being a secular country, the focus should be more on professional aspect of market rather than religious aspect. India needs legislations and willingness to make India fair play ground not only for domestic entrepreneurs but also for global players in meat and poultry business.

Sericulture in India

 Sericulture is an agro-based industry, involving rearing of silkworms for the production of raw silk, which is the yarn obtained out of cocoons spun by certain species of insects.  Cultivation to feed the silkworms that spin silk cocoons and reeling the cocoons to unwind the silk filament for value added advantages like process and weaving are the major activities of sericulture. Silk has been blended with the life and culture of the Indians.

Current scenario

  • India’s Silk Industry is world’s second largest after China.
  • The total production of silk in India stood at around 23,000 tonnes in the year 2011-12.
  • India produces four varieties of silk produced, viz. Mulberry, Eri, Tasar and Muga.
  • About 80% of silk produced in country is of mulberry silk, majority of which is produced in the three southern States of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
  • Sericulture Provides gainful occupation to around 63 Lakh persons in rural and semi-urban areas in India.
  • About 97% of raw silk in India is produced in five Indian states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir.

Strengths of Indian silk industry

  • The 2nd largest producer of silk in the world after China;
  • The largest consumer of silk in the world;
  • The only country in the world that produces all 5 varieties of silk on a commercial scale;
  • Holds the global monopoly for production of the famed golden ‘Muga’ silk;
  • Has abundant arable land for sericulture expansion;
  • Has developed world class research organization with highly qualified and experienced Scientists and Technicians;
  • Possess enough skilled man power.

Importance of Sericulture to village economy and rising farmer’s income:

  • India has the unique distinction of being the only country producing all the five known commercial silks, viz. mulberry, tropical tasar, oak tasar, eri and muga, of which muga with its golden yellow glitter is unique and prerogative of India.
  • India is the second largest producer of silk in the world with total raw silk production of 33,739 MT in 2020-21.
  • The export earnings during 2020-21 were Rs. 1418.97 crores.
  • Although Sericulture is considered as a subsidiary occupation, technological innovation has made it possible to take it up on an intensive scale capable of generating adequate income.
  • It is also capable of providing continuous income to farmers.
  • Sericulture is an important labour-intensive, agro-based cottage industry, providing gainful occupation in rural and semi- urban areas in India.
  • The estimated employment generation under sericulture in the country was 7 million persons during 2020-21 compared to 9.4 million persons in 2019-20 due to COVID-19.
  • It is calculable that Sericulture can generate employment @ 11-man days per kg of raw silk production (in on-farm and off-farm activities) throughout the year.
  • This potential is par-excellence and no other business generates this type of employment, especially in rural areas, hence, sericulture is used as a tool for rural reconstruction.
  • Women constitutes a major chunk of those employed in down-stream activities of sericulture in the country.
    • This is the result of sericulture activities ranging from mulberry garden management, leaf harvesting and silkworm rearing is more effectively taken up by the women folk.
    • Even silk reeling business together with weaving is largely supported by them.
  • The low gestation period of mulberry where five crops can be taken in one year under tropical conditions, further help in boosting farmer income.

Challenges faced by Silk Industry in India

  • Urbanization in Traditional Sericulture Areas:
    • Along with the rapid economic development in the traditional areas of the country, the industrialization and urbanization process has accelerated significantly.
    • This, clubbed with the rising land and labour costs, are hampering the horizontal expansion of sericulture there.
  • Augmentation of Bivoltine Raw Silk Production:
    • Tropicalisation and popularization of bivoltine sericulture in our country is a big challenge.
    • The bivoltine breeds alone can produce the gradable raw silk with the strength and tenacity required for our power looms.
    • However, we are unable to produce appreciable quantity of import substitute bivoltine raw silk, even to meet our own domestic demand.
    • We are dependent on imports to cater to the needs of our power looms.
  • Depleting Water Table:
    • Sericulture in India is practiced in select areas that depend largely on rain.
    • Hence, water resource for irrigation has been a major concern and depleting water table is a big threat for the industry.
  • Degrading Genetic Base:
    • India has a very narrow genetic base required for developing the high yielding, disease tolerant breeds with better survival under fluctuating tropical conditions.
  • Unorganized nature of Sericulture:
    • The Indian sericulture continues to remain with small, marginal farmers and small reelers, unlike China which has small producers but large converters.
  • Poor Credit Flow:
    • Adequate institutional credit to the needy farmers, reelers, weavers etc., would help to improve the quality and productivity, thereby increasing the net income.
  • Low export earnings:
    • Due to global recession and reduced demand in western countries for silk goods. A weaker rupee is also hurting exports.
    • However, the silk exports are finding non-traditional/new markets in UAE, Nigeria, Thailand etc.
  • No Quality Protection:
    • It leads to inadequate returns on hardwork of handloom workers since powerloom is much cheaper
  • Declining inclination of youth towards weaving:
    • The younger generations are losing interest as one can earn the same money working at a powerloom with less stress
  • Competitive pricing:
    • The blending of cheap imported Chinese silk or artificial/synthetic silk yarns putting the natural silk traders on the verge of distress sales.
  • Decline in area of Cultivation:
    • Mulberry silk in the country has seen a steady decline in its area of mulberry cultivation because of rapid urbanization, industrialization and a shortage of agricultural labour.
  • Piece meal approach of government
    • In terms of banning foreign silk, lack of integrated market and inadequate knowledge of sericulture amongst the traders.

Government initiatives undertaken to boost Sericulture in India

  • National Silk Policy 2020 was formulated to strengthen the silk industry in India.
  • Integrated Scheme for the Development of Silk Industry (CSS)
    • Central Silk Board (CSB) has been implementing a rationalized restructured Central Sector Scheme “Integrated Scheme for Development of Silk Industry” for development of sericulture in the Country.
    • It is an umbrella scheme consisting of following four components for the development of Sericulture and Silk industry.
    • The focus and emphasis are on improving production, quality and productivity of domestic silk thereby reducing the country’s dependence on imported silk.
    • The Scheme has four components –
      • Research & Development (R&D), Training, Transfer of Technology and IT Initiatives
      • Seed Organizations and farmers extension centres
      • Coordination and Market Development for seed, yarn and silk products and
      • Quality Certification System (QCS) by creating amongst others a chain of Silk Testing facilities, Farm based & post-cocoon Technology Up-gradation, and Export Brand Promotion.
  • North East Region Textile Promotion Scheme (NERTPS)
    • Under “North East Region Textile Promotion Scheme” (NERTPS), 24 sericulture projects are being implemented under two broad categories viz., Integrated Sericulture Development Project (ISDP) and Intensive Bivoltine Sericulture Development Project [IBSDP] covering Mulberry, Eri and Muga sectors in all North Eastern States.
    • The projects aim at holistic development of sericulture in all its spheres from plantation development to production of fabrics with value addition at every stage of production chain.
  • Sericulture is included as agriculture allied activity under RKVY. This enables the sericulturists to avail the benefits of the scheme for the entire sericulture activities up to reeling.
  • The CSB (Amendment) Act, Rules and Regulations have been notified by the Govt. of India to bring quality standards in silkworm seed production.
  • Forest Conservation Act has been amended to treat non mulberry sericulture as forest-based activity enabling the farmers to undertake Vanya silkworm rearing in the natural host plantation in the forests.
  • Anti-dumping duty on Chinese raw silk – The Director General of Antidumping & Allied Duties (DGAD), New Delhi has recommended imposition of antidumping duty on Chinese raw silk of 3A Grade & Below in the form of fixed duty of US$ 1.85 per Kg on the landed cost of imported raw silk.
  • CDP-MGNREGA convergence guideline have been finalized and issued jointly by the MOT and MORD. These guidelines will help sericulture farmers to avail assistance from MGNREGA scheme.

Way forward

  • Establishment of close linkage between forward and backward sub-systems for greater efficiency and synergy as sericulture and silk industry is highly scattered and unorganized.
  • Adequate thrust on non-traditional uses of silk such as use for artificial skin and other medical applications could create a positive pressure for high value addition.
  • Protection to some extent of Indian silk market from Chinese cheap raw silk and fabrics by implementation of anti-dumping duty.
  • Identification and promotion of potential clusters for silk production in potential traditional and non-traditional areas.
  • Skill up-gradation through structured and specially designed training programmed.
  • Evolution of appropriate cost-effective technologies through focused research projects for the development of superior and hybrid breeds of silkworms.