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Himalayan yak gets food animal tag; milk and meat to be used

The Himalayan yak has earned the food animal tag from the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI). The categorisation is expected to help check the decline in the population of the high-altitude bovine by making it a part of the conventional milk and meat industry.

Mihir Sarkar, Director of the National Research Centre on Yak (NRC-Y) based in Dirang in Arunachal Pradesh, said his institution had submitted a proposal to the FSSAI in 2021 for considering the yak as a food animal. The FSSAI responded with an official approval a few days ago after a recommendation from the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying.“The yak plays a multi-dimensional socio-cultural economic role for the pastoral nomads who rear it mainly for earning their nutritional and livelihood security due to the lack of other agricultural activity in the higher reaches of the region where it is difficult for animals except the yakto survive,” Mr. Sarkar said.

According to a census carried out in 2019, India has some 58,000 yaks – a drop of about 25% from the livestock census of 2012. The drastic decline could be attributed to less remuneration from the bovid
and discouraging the younger generations from continuing with nomadic yak rearing. The sale of yak
milk and meat is limited to local consumers. NRC-Y scientists believe the commercialisation of yak milk and meat products will lead to entrepreneurship development. “The recognition will help farmers rear the yak economically and open up several vistas of economic benefits for both farmers and food processors,” Mr.
Sarkar said. Himalayan yak gets food animal tag; milk and meat to be used Himalayan nomads rearing the animal.

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