following an outbreak of the foot-and-mouth (fmd) disease and the authorities' incapability to handle the situation, the Indian meat exports have declined dramatically -- from 30,000 tonnes per month in February 2001 to less than 15,000 tonnes in March 2001, according to trade sources. Among other reasons, the 50 per cent decline is attributed to a ban on Indian meat by Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Only 25 million doses of the fmd vaccines are annually produced in the country -- which is insufficient for the country's 209 million cattle. The authorities, however, paint a rosy picture (see 'A cattle crisis', Down To Earth , Vol 9, No 21, March 31, 2001). "There is no need to panic. We are fully prepared and our regional research centres are well equipped to diagnose the disease and vaccinate the livestock. FMD will not prove to be problem for India," claims Lal Krishna, assistant director general of the animal sciences division of the New Delhi-based Indian Council of Agricultural Research.
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