Comments on Rat Farming
If humans will need twice as much food and feed in 2040 how would we feed ourselves and our increasing number of pets with low organic yields? Organic fields yields are limited primarily because of the global shortage of manure. However, the world would need billions more cattle to get extra manure, and we’d have to clear forests to grow their forage. “Green manure crops” steal land, sunshine, water, and soil nutrients from food and feed crops.
The best non-science solution I’ve heard is from Vijoy Prakash, Secretary of Welfare in India’s Bihar state. Prakash says we should eat rats. Then the rats won’t eat the stored grain, and the people will get more high-quality protein. He is promoting rat meat in the villages—and talking with hotels about rat meat on their menus. It’s at least more realistic than expecting humans to become vegetarian.
DENNIS T. AVERY is a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC and is the Director for the Center for Global Food Issues. (www.cgfi.org) He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Hundred Years.
Father Edwin Menezes is excited about the plan. The Jesuit priest, who has worked among the musahar for two decades, says about 3 million people stand to benefit.
Promoting rat cuisine in top-grade hotels and special restaurants will remove the “indignity” associated with rat meat and the musahar community, he added, acknowledging that other castes look down on musahar for eating rats.
Rat-hunting also has other benefits, he explained, crediting the musahar with saving thousands of tons of rice paddy from the rodents every year. “They do a great service,” in his view, collecting a good supply of stored grains from rat holes “as a bonus.”
Raghu claimed he can find up to 10 kilograms of grains from holes after a few hours hunting rats. “The field owners never claim a share,” he said. “It is considered our inherent right to recover grains from rat holes after the harvest.”
Father Jose Kariakatt, another Jesuit working among the musahar, says rat meat has high nutritional value, so the musahar are “healthier and sturdier” than other castes even though they live in “total penury.”
Both priests claim they have eaten rat meat and find it nutritious.
Suraj Patel, a dietician, agreed, maintaining that rat meat has “more protein potency than chicken.” He said roasted rat stuffed with spices and garlic is one of his favorite dishes.
The dietician wants the government to promote rat meat after proper research into its protein value and other nutrients. “It could be marketed in India and exported, too,” he remarked.
Jesuit Father Edwin Menezes and Jesuit Father Jose Kariakatt are the dialogue director and the legal aid director of the Patna Jesuit Province.
The global food crisis continues to fuel food price inflation and send many into hunger and despair. Around the world, solutions are being sought to the urgent need for more and cheaper food. Right now there are 862 million undernourished people around the world (FAO), and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for food production to increase 50 percent by 2030 just to meet rising demand.
The crisis is forcing many countries to turn to other food sources to feed their populations. As the price of poultry, cows, sheep,pigs and seafood rises, rodents are coming more and more into the picture, in particular, rats (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat). For example, in Africa, farming the cane rat is seen as a better option than chickens, because they are easier to care for…..
…..In India, the secretary of the state for welfare in the state of Bihar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bihar) has called for more rat harvesting and eating to beat the rising prices of food. Vijoy Prakash sees another benefit to rat eating: killing the rats will help keep the population under control and reduce the amount of grain stocks being devoured by the voracious little eaters.
At present, over 50 percent of Bihar’s grain stock is destroyed by rats.
Practical Prakash realises he has a sales job on his hands, and is currently meeting with hotels and restaurants to include rat on the menus and make the dishes appetising.
“Some socially deprived people in Bihar have always consumed rat meat. If they can eat rats, why can’t the rest of the people?” he told India’s The Week. “This will help in mitigating the global food crisis. We are sure that it will work wonders.”
In Bihar, the traditional rat eaters are called the Musahars – a group looked down upon as ‘untouchables’ in India’s caste system of social hierarchy – who have always made their living by hunting rats in the rice paddy fields.
“We’d like to have a network with other experts to boost the rat meat business” said Prakash. “We will encourage and help the Musahars to organize rat farms in order to commercialise rat meat. The government has decided to engage the Musahars in commercialisation of rat meat for their overall development.”
Estimates place the number of Musahars at 2.3 million people, many of whom are considered the most deprived and marginalised in Indian society.
While Bihar is in the north-east of India, rat eating in the South of India has reduced the amount of chicken eaten…..
…..Farmer Ade Olayiwola of Ibadan, Nigeria (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibadan) told the Tribune Agriculture journal that cane rats are a high-profit, low-stress animal to farm.
“It is more assuring than the poultry business which could bring fortune to you in the day, but could also bring unexpected problems suddenly, to the extent that if care is not taken, one may run into serious financial crisis as well as other problems,” he said.
From Rats a Solution in Food Crisis written by Hopenow.