Emu farming fast picking up in Balangir
Sudhir Mishra | Balangir
It is common to find people, women members of SHGs and unemployed youths taking up several income-generating programmes like poultry farming, goatery, duck farming, etc to supplement their income and eke out a living.
However, farming of Emu, the Australian bird that too in backward Balangir district, which very often hits headlines for news of alleged starvation deaths and distress migration would be surprising for many.
Emu bird is mostly found in Australia and it belongs to the ostrich family which can walk at a speed of 40 km/h. It has been described as golden bird as all its parts starting from its meat, oil, fur to even its skin are in heavy demand.
The meat of Emu is in high demand as it is believed to be fat-free and its oil is considered to be highly effective in arthritis, rheumatism and other aliments. Its fat is purchased by medicine companies for preparing medicines. Almost all parts of the bird are in great demand as these are found useful in various ways.
I saw a feature on Emu birds on a TV channel and after searching a lot, I came in contact with an Emu farmer of Berhampur. I also visited several places in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu where Emu farming is prevalent, said Narendra Kumar Sahu. I started Emu farming in May 2009 at Bargaon, 10 km away from here and now there are 55 Emu birds in my farm. I bought them from Dindigul near Kanyakumari when they were five months old. Each bird cost me Rs 14,000, he said.
Prior to that, I also carried out soil tests and other examinations by a qualified medical staff. The Emu bird can survive in a minimum temperature of minus 10 degree Celsius and a maximum of 58 degree Celsius, informed Sahu. They are docile and live in a group. They are herbivorous and mainly eat leaves. I have requisitioned the service of a retired veterinary surgeon and another person besides caretakers to look after the birds, he said. The Emu bird starts laying eggs after two years and the number of laying of eggs also goes up, he said. I expect the Emu birds in my farm to give their eggs by September this year, said Sahu. Each bird is expected to give 15-20 eggs in the first year, he added.
Each egg of Emu fetches around Rs 1,800. As I have buy back agreement with the farm from where I purchase the chicks, I would not face any problem in selling or marketing, he explained. In Hyderabad, the meat of Emu is in high demand and there would not be a problem for me to sell its products in view of buy back agreement, he said further. However, the major constraint for Emu farming is the heavy investment it requires, he opined.