Ahmedabad: Far from its native habitat in Australia, the flightless emu is leaving its footprint across the plains of India, with an increasing number of farmers commercially rearing the ostrich-size bird.
From a single farm in 1996, there are today 900 emu farms in 14 states, with a majority of them in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, Bhadresh L Mehta, founder of the Emu Farmers Association, told PTI here.
The country’s first commercial emu farm was started in 1996 by an NRI named Mutiyala but it soon closed down. Mutiyala left for the US within months of starting his project because of the poor response.
The reason for the growth of emu farms today is the increasing demand for the bird’s meat and oil, which is believed to have medicinal properties, especially for treating joint pains, Mehta said.
Mehta, who is based in Pune, said he plans to expand his business to Gujarat and Rajasthan.
“Emus are tough and sturdy and are used to extreme climates as they come from the open country of Australia,” he said.
The 1.5-metre high birds, which weigh approximately 60 kg, would have no problem adjusting to the arid regions of Gujarat and Rajasthan, he pointed out.