Many will shudder at the thought of having a roast Ostrich at their dinner table given the massive size of these ratite birds. However, ostrich meat is gaining popularity globally, including India, among the health conscious ‘red meat’ lovers. This is due to the medicinal qualities the bird possesses. The meat is called ‘future meat’ by several people.

This has given rise to large-scale emu and ostrich farming, popularly known as ‘golden farming’ in India and Nepal too. While in India, States such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra and Odisha are proactive in rearing these massive flightless birds of Australian origin, in Nepal it is slowly gaining traction.

Ostrich Nepal, a private company in Nepal’s Bhairawaha district, which started commercial farming of these avians four years ago, now boasts of having the largest breeding centre spread across 13.54 hectares. The company wants private investments from Indian firms to take up the farming in a large scale. The company already has a tie-up with Emu India for supply of emu chicks and technical know-how.

“I know of several companies that are into emu farming in India. Together, India and Nepal can be a global supplier of Ostrich meat, which is very much in demand in China, Europe and the US,” said C.P. Sharma, founder of Ostrich Nepal. Initial investment in the company was around Rs 30 crore.

At present, Sharma’s farm has 1,000 birds, mostly chicks, in the farm. According to him, the company will be able to supply up to 200 tonnes and 2,500 tonnes in 2013 and 2014 respectively. A chick takes 3-4 years to grow.

“We started ostrich farming keeping in mind the international market. The ostrich products — meat, leather and feather — are very expensive (€40 a pound) in the market given their medicinal values. Ostrich meat contains less cholesterol and high level of vitamins and minerals. One kg of ostrich meat costs up to $90 in the international market,” he added.

Priyanka.pani@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on January 7, 2013)
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