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Iconic Ongole bull, now a cash cow for Brazil


HYDERABAD: There may not be many takers for the famous Ongole bull in its native Andhra Pradesh, but Brazilians have second bred it by the lakhs and are in turn exporting it to other countries at very high prices. Realizing that the original Ongole bull has become the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg, the Brazilians have now sought permission from the Chennai-based National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) to take the germ plasm (semen) of the bull to their country from India.


The authorities have constituted an expert committee which is still to take a decision on the request.


Weighing about 420 kg, the Ongole bulls are tough, highly tolerant to heat as well as disease resistant. “The Ongole bull is bred locally for beef while the female can give about 80 litres of milk a day,” NBA secretary T Rabi Kumar told TOI.


Brazil has been importing the Ongole bull for decades, but after the National Biodiversity Act came into existence in 2000, taking out the germ plasm of the bull was strictly monitored. Earlier, local farmers used to sell the bull for Rs 3 to 4 lakh to the foreigners. By second breeding them, Brazil has turned the sale of the Brahmana Bull, the local variety, to other countries a very profitable business, said sources.


Rabi Kumar said a Brazilian team has placed a request for export of about 5,000 units of germ plasm. “We have sought more information from them on the usage of the germ plasm and the reasons for seeking permission. Once they give clarity, the expert committee in its next meeting will take a decision,” he said. Reportedly, each unit of germ plasm costs about $ 5,000 in the international market.


Former chairman of the AP Biodiversity Board, R Hampaiah, said Brazil was in the forefront of the nations exporting beef derived from the Ongole bull. “During my visit to Brazil, I discovered that they had improved the Ongole bull variety genetically. Between Brazil and Mexico together, there are nearly one crore Brahmana bulls,” he said. According to him, there are not more than a 1,000 top quality Ongole bulls in AP at present.


Sources attributed the genetic improvement made by the Brazilians in the Ongole bull as the reason for its high demand internationally. “We found out that the second breed of the Ongole bull was fetching anywhere between Rs 3 to 4 crore in Brazil,” said M Rajanikanth, project coordinator of Ankush, an organization working for animal protection.

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