Emu farming in India: Frequently asked questions

Few years back, I was interviewed by a television channel regarding the scope and future of emu farming in India, particularly in Maharashtra. I am posting the questions and answers from that interview for the benefit of others who might be interested (Note: this is not exactly the transcribed version of the interview). Though the numbers might be outdated but the facts remain the same, so you may still find it useful. 

Q. What is emu and emu farming? Why should we take it up?

Emu belongs to the ratite family of birds. These birds can thrive under varying climatic conditions wherever poultry can be reared. They are omnivorous and eat leaves, vegetables, fruits, insects, worms. And about 96% of the bird’s parts are usable.
Recognizing the economic importance of these birds, Australian Government in 1975 started domesticating these birds, that were living in the forest, by establishing big emu farms.
In early eighties, emu farming activity started spreading in America, France and other European countries too. It is reported that there are about 10,000 Emu farms in America. The emu farming practice has also spread to China, Japan, Malaysia and Korea.
In India, we need to diversify to such other species of poultry in order to reap more profits as diversification is the key to success in any enterprise. Emu farming is now emerging as a promising economic activity in India.

Q. How emu farming originated in India? Can you comment on the suitability of emu for Maharashtra?

In 1996, one Emu farm was established in Andhra Pradesh on a small scale. Few years later, another farm was setup in 2001 in Pune, Maharashtra followed by another one in 2002 in Baramati, Maharashtra. Also, there are two Emu Associations, dedicated to the emu industry, raising public awareness of emu products.
Presently about 50-60 progressive farmers of Maharashtra state have started Emu farming with 10-100 pairs in Pune, Thane, Nasik, Akola, Nagar, Beed, Kolhapur districts.
At present more than 1000 pairs of Emu are reared by the farmers in the state. For large scale production of meat, oil and skin, there is a long term potential for breeding and rearing of more than 75000 emus.
The experience of the farmers so far has been encouraging. Recognizing the economic importance of emu, Commissioner of Animal Husbandry, Maharashtra, has also come out with the biosecurity measures to be followed in emu farming.
Similarly, Chief conservator of Forests (Territorial), Govt. of Maharashtra has also indicated that no permission from Forest Department is necessary for emu farming.


Q. How did NABARD get into scheme formulation?

Because of increasing popularity of emu industry through newspaper articles, television coverage & exhibitions, many farmers were coming to us for guidance and inquiring about the availability of bank loan for establishment of a new farm or expansion of existing farms.
To promote such innovative activity in the state which can accelerate capital formation in the rural area, NABARD, Maharashtra Regional Office, Pune has taken a decision to formulate a model project for rearing of 10 pairs of Emu, as there is demand for such unit size.

Q. Can you tell us the economic importance of emu farming?

As I have mentioned earlier about 96% of the bird’s parts are usable. The bird can be sold as a whole bird or as products, such as, meat, oil, and skin.
Presently, the farmers enter into a buy-back arrangement with the hatcheries, this as of now is working well. Before entering into emu farming, farmers may have to properly ensure the market availability for their products, such as buy-back agreements.
Now, let’s discuss the various economic uses of the bird in detail.
Whole Bird:
It is reported that the price of a pair of 15 months old birds having live body weight each 40 Kg is about Rs. 20,000/- to Rs 21,000/- and the birds are used for table purpose.
Meat of Emu bird is soft and with less of cholesterol, i.e., 98% fat free. Emu meat is lower in fat than Chicken, Turkey, Pork & Beef. It is considered as the "Super Food of the New Millennium".
Emu meat commands higher price than that of meat from other birds/animals and is reported around Rs. 200-250 per Kg. The American Heart Association has included emu meat in its listing of heart healthy meats.
About 4-6 liters of oil is available from a bird which is devoid of any color, taste and odor. The price of one liter refined emu oil is about Rs.3000. The oil is penetrating and is having moisturizing, analgesic, anti-allergic and antiseptic properties.
The oil is used in analgesic ointments, beauty creams and lotions, soaps, hair oils, shampoos, perfumes and massage oils. The raw fat/crude oil of emu fetches about Rs. 1000 per Kg.
The skin is very thin, soft and strong. Price of good quality skin is reported to be about Rs. 1000/- per Sq.ft and 8-12 sq ft. of skin is available from a well matured bird. The skin is used in the preparation of shoes, bags, belts, purses, jerkins and seat covers for expensive cars.
Hatcheries purchase @ Rs 600/- to 750/- per egg or on the basis of chick born @ Rs. 1200 to 1250 per chick as per buy back agreement for supply of Emus & purchase of eggs.
Feathers are soft non-allergic, anti-static, beautiful double quilled. They are used in hats, dresses, computer and car cleaning brushes, and household decorative items. About 400 to 600 gm of feathers would be available from a bird and each bird would fetch about Rs. 200/- at present .
Egg shells and nails:
The egg shells are used for painting and as decorative items owing to their deep blue color. Nails are strong having decorative uses in artificial ornaments and craft goods.

Q. Tell us about the availability of emu pairs. What other inputs are required for emu farming?

In Maharashtra, there are two private emu hatcheries - Mahaemu Association , Baramati and Emu Farmers Association, Pune - supplying the Emu pairs of different age groups - 3 months, 6 months, 12 months and 15 months old. 
The major inputs required in emu farming are:
Poultry feed (layer) can also be fed to Emu. In addition to poultry feed, mineral mixture and shell/stone grit can be given. Sprouted desi chana and methi has to be fed during laying season. During summer season chopped vegetables like cabbage, carrot, beet root, etc has to be fed.
Veterinary aid:
Like poultry chlorinated water should be given to Emu birds. Deworming should be done twice in a year at an interval of 6 months.
Shed, breeding pens and Run-off area:
Low cost shed and building material locally available can be used.
Waterer, feeders & egg trays are locally available can be used.

Q. Can any farmer take up emu farming?

A good practical training and experience on a Emu farm will be highly desirable before starting a farm. If possible, they should visit the progressive Emu farms/Hatcheries in the area and discuss the various techniques and profitability of farming.
Training on Emu farming is given in some farms, during training these farms supply technical information in the form of books/CDs/booklet/pamphlet etc. The farmers should also ensure proper marketing like buyback arrangement.


Q. Any information about the project developed by NABARD?

One model of 10 pairs Emu have been formulated for use by small farmers for taking bank loan. The total project cost is Rs. 3 lakh. This model has been circulated to all controlling offices of major financing banks in the State .

Q. What are the loan facilities available to the interested entrepreneurs?

Loan from banks with refinance facility from NABARD is available for establishing Emu farm. For obtaining bank loan, the farmer should apply to the nearest branch of a Commercial or Cooperative or Regional Rural Banks in their area in the prescribed forms which is available in the branches of financing banks.
A project report should be attached/enclosed with loan form. For Emu farming schemes with very large outlays, detailed reports have to be prepared.
The technical officers associated with the bank or the Branch Manager of the bank can help/give guidance to the farmers in preparing the project report to obtain bank loan.
A scheme can also be prepared by the beneficiary after consulting local technical experts or private commercial Emu hatcheries.

Q. Is there any facility available with NABARD for helping the farmers in project preparation?

Consultancy Services of NABARD (NABCONS) are available on payment of necessary fees. NABARD can identify, formulate or appraise the projects.

Q. How much income can we expect from an unit of 10 birds and what will be the repayment period?

A net income after repayment of loan and interest thereon for the first three years would be Rs. 20,000 and subsequently an increase of approximately Rs.5000 per year. Usually, the repayment period of 7 years with one year moratorium and will depend on cash flow.

Q. Is there any other incentive for emu farming?

The Government of India has now launched a new Venture capital fund in which loan for 50% of the project cost will be interest free for emu breeding farms & processing units, if the repayment is regular and subject to a maximum project cost of Rs.30 lakh.

Q. What is the future of emu farming?

You can observe that the health consciousness is ever increasing among our people, emu meat is of low fat and heart friendly, considering this there will be demand for emu meat in the country.
Apart from this, the oil extracted from emu is of medicinal value and is gaining popularity now. It is also fetching remunerative price. As emu business is in its nascent stage, farmers have to be careful about ensuring the availability of the market before venturing into emu farming.

Q. What are the precautions to be observed by the farmers?

This is a relatively a new and innovative activity. Sale of emu and its products cannot be made in the open market, the way chicken etc. are marketed.
The farmer should enter into effective buy-back arrangements, check the soundness of those willing to buy-back and confirm the track record of those who supply emu chicks and buy back the eggs. Since the emu birds are exotic, the rearing practices should conform to the technical advice given.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...