Environment & Biodiversity

Mithun of the Northeast receives the ‘Food Animal’ label

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) officially designated the mithun as a ‘food animal,’ paving the way for commercial exploitation.

Mithun’s Biography

  • The Mithun, also known as the Gayal (Bos frontalis in science), is thought to have originated from the Indian Gaur or bison.
  • Aylmer Bourke Lambert described it for the first time in 1804.
  • It is culturally and economically vital to Arunachal Pradesh tribes such as the Nyishi, Apatani, Galo, and Adi.
  • Northeast India, Bangladesh, northern Myanmar, and Yunnan, China are all part of its range.
  • It is also known as the ‘cattle of the mountain.’
  • Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland have gayals as their state animals.

Conservation status

  • IUCN: Vulnerable
  • CITES: Appendix I.

Acceptance as a ‘Food Animal’

  • This action has inspired attempts to assist farmers and tribal communities in economically benefiting from the sale and processing of mithun meat.
  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research has launched the M-ANITRA app, which allows Mithun farmers to register as both “buyers” and “sellers” in order to engage in competitive trade.
  • Mithun farmers from various areas in Northeast India have been trained by organisations such as the ICAR-National Research Centre on Mithun.
  • Farmers are implementing mithun protection practises including as enclosures, night shelters, and immunisations.
  • Mithuns can earn high rates as meat, with an average selling price of Rs 300 per kilogramme.
  • Farmers are ecstatic at the prospect of commercially selling mithun meat.
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