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How emu scam was aided by Union Govt and NABARD

Chennai,Sep 21 () : The emu scam in Tamil Nadu has its origin in Union Government Poultry Venture Capital fund and NABARD which put up on its website the monetary returns from these birds.

These lucrative returns from emu birds were reproduced by the scamsters in their brochures and websites quoting government agency. This brought in hordes of investors to invest in emu birds. Left abandoned by the emu owners, the State government has now decided to take up the job of feeding them as many of them have already perished.

The subsidy scheme took shape in 2005 and floated by Union Government’s Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries by offering interest-free loans to those who wanted to set up emu farms. National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) had the responsibility to route these loans. Some PSU banks too were given the job of distributing the Union Government subsidy.

This scheme took a new avatar as Poultry Venture Capital Fund 2009-’10 which was further changed to Poultry Venture Capital Fund (Subsidy) Scheme 2011. Ironically,this scheme initially did not include emu in the list of poultry birds.

The PSU banks gave 25% of investment in emu farms as interest-free initially and then gave subsidy to these entrepreneurs. NABARD role was to refinance the loans and handed over Rs 10 crore as subsidy to emu farm owners till 2011.

The emu rush started when an executive of French food manufacturing company presented a paper in a seminar conducted jointly by Indian and French companies at Bangalore in 1997.

The French man said that an ostrich (which was later defined by Indian counterparts as emu) was worth Rs 16 lakh after a year. His figures in dollars was $30,000. Considering that it was in 1997, the price should be much more now.

He went on to prove how this wonderful investment opportunity for Indians could turn true. He said very emphatically that in one year an emu would give birth to 30 more. He said that the going rate of $10 a pound of meat, these birds totalled 60 pounds which means Rs 9.72 lakhs per year or otherwise $18,000. After selling off their meat, their skins would fetch Rs 5-6 lakhs and plumage value would be Rs 81,000. No poultry expert or any company bothered to verify the grounds on these figures.

Whether the French man hoped to bag an order to supply ostriches to Indian companies or not, NABARD put it on their website. Soon every emu farm quoted NABARD and the rush started. Even income from emu oil was added to the revenue.

The rest is history. Soon, another entrepreneur came out with a similar investment scheme which too comes under the subsidy scheme with chicken farms. His USP was that emu meat is not commonly used and chicken is widely used and fast moving. He too got investors pouring in to invest in chicks which gave lakhs a year. These chicken scam operators too flew away.

Now, emu investors are asking NABARD to fund emu oil producing units to get their money back but the agency feels that with a glut of these birds in the market it may not be viable.