Exports of breeding stock and semen are absolutely vital for the survival of the UK’s pedigree pig industry.
For this very reason, the BPA has an export manager whose job it is to organise trips with the help of the Department for International Trade’s Tradeshow Access Programme. This programme gives grants to exhibitors to attend shows that are part of an agreed programme – exhibitors can be all types of agricultural producers who want to export, or equipment manufacturers.
I recently visited India as part of this programme. The pig industry there is really only just starting, and they desperately need to improve breeding stock and production methods.
Thanks to the efforts of the High Commission and the UK Export Certification Partnership, the UK is the only EU country with a health certificate to export breeding pigs to India. Most pork is consumed in the north, in the states of Assam and Punjab.
My busy six days in India started in Delhi. I had an afternoon enjoying this city with its chaotic and noisy traffic and the tuktuk drivers who want to take you wherever they are getting a good backhander, rather than where you want to go. The next morning, I met Chris Jackson (BPA export manager) and we flew to Guwahati in Assam, where we met other members of the party and members of staff from the British High Commission.
We were all invited to dinner at a local businessman’s house, and to talk pigs. The next day we all gave presentations about our businesses and what we can offer local farmers and academics, followed by a question and answer session.
In the afternoon, we were meant to visit a local experimental farm, but in typical Indian style this changed to a meeting with the Assam Minister of Agriculture. This was an excellent meeting.
Immediately after this, it was off to the airport again to fly back to Delhi. Next morning another flight, this time to Chandigarh.
That night we attended a reception at the Deputy High Commissioner’s residence, again with invited guests who were interested in agricultural development.
The next day we drove to Patiala to attend the Punjab Livestock Expo, an agricultural show held on fields. We had a British Pavilion at the show organised by the High Commission. As well as the usual stands found at shows throughout the world, they were showing horses, cattle and goats – although the transport used for the livestock would not meet approval here!
This was my last day in India. A great trip with many new contacts, which will hopefully open up new markets for British pigs.