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Monday, June 1, 2020

China Province pays compensation for abstaining from wild animals !

The CIVETS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa) is a grouping acronym for favoured emerging markets coined in late 2009 by Robert Ward, Global Forecasting Director for the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The term has also been used by HSBC's chief executive Michael Geoghegan. These countries are favored for several reasons, such as a dynamic and diverse economy and a young growing population.

Sure you have heard of ‘Punugu poonai’ – the civet cat.  It is not exactly a cat but a small nocturnal mammal that lives in forests.  The word civet also refers to the distinctive musky scent produced by the animals.

South Indians are so fond of coffee that their mornings begin with a big tumbler of coffee taken hot in the morning. Not ordinary Coffee, but Filter coffee – made from decoction dripping down from  coffee powder made of  dark roasted coffee beans, chicory – the hot water percolates through the thick powder solely by gravity and not under pressure.  To this decoction, is added milk, enough not to change the colour and aura.  The fresh coffee beverage literally wakes you up and makes you open to the day’s realities.  It has a stimulating effect on people due to its caffeine content and is the most consumed beverages of the World.  

Your nearby restaurant may charge Rs.25/- for Coffee and in a Star hotel, you might end up paying in hundreds and costlier if you are to order in a trendy Coffee club  but can you imagine paying closer to Rs.6000/- for a cup of coffee !  ‘Kopi luwak’ is considered one of the most expensive and lowly produced varities of coffee.  It is made from the beans of coffee berries which have been eaten by the Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) and other related civets, then passed through its digestive tract. Kopi luwak is produced mainly on the islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali and Sulawesi in the Indonesian Archipelago, and also in the Philippines. 

Now the general rule is whatever you read or write has to be linked to Covid-19.  A Chinese province has become the first to say wild animal farmers will be paid compensation if they cease operations and start raising other animals instead. The move comes as the country tries to end a multibillion-dollar industry blamed for endangering public health while also attempting to pacify the millions of workers whose livelihoods depend on the trade.

The Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed at least 300,000 people worldwide, has been linked to wild animals carrying a coronavirus that jumped to humans. Under pressure to contain a worsening outbreak in February, the Chinese government is reported to have stated that it would ban the trade and consumption of wild animals. The central province of Hunan said  that people who bred wild animals for food and who voluntarily closed their farms would be compensated and encouraged to raise other animals.  Hunan is the first province to introduce such a policy, and under the scheme farmers will be paid 120 yuan (US$17) for each kilogram of snakes or 75 yuan for bamboo rats they handed over.  Each porcupine or civet, a catlike species previously linked to the sever acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) epidemic in the early 2000s, will bring a payout of about 600 yuan (US$84).
a pangolin

Hunan also announced extra subsidies and employment training programmes to help wild animal farmers. Those who want to breed wild animals for research or medicine will have to have a licence to continue in business.  Breeding bamboo rats will be discouraged under the scheme.  Some cities have also offered a string of incentives for those looking to quit the trade. In Ganzhou, a city in the eastern province of Jiangxi, the city government has encouraged wild animal farmers to switch by offering loans and cheaper rents for farmland. In the town of Dongyuan, in the southern province of Guangdong, the government has pledged to spend 2 million yuan (US$280,000) subsidising bamboo rat and snake farmers who have to give up their trade.

China’s move to ban the wildlife trade out of public health concerns has been complicated by its effort to alleviate poverty.  According to a 2017 report by the Chinese Academy of Engineering, China’s wildlife trade is worth 520 billion yuan (US$74 billion) and employs more than 14 million people. In some of the poorest parts of China, such as Guizhou and Guangxi, wildlife farming is an important source of income, especially for those in poverty. China has not publicised the progress or actions it has taken to enforce a national ban on the trade and consumption of wild animals since it was imposed in February.  Among farmers reported to have dropped their wildlife trade since the outbreak are the Huanong Brothers, a pair of internet celebrities who shot to fame for posting footage of them breeding and cooking bamboo rats.

The farmers refused to detail their loss when asked, saying only that they were “doing just fine” and that they had received government compensation. On the popular Chinese social media site Weibo, their previous videos cooking bamboo rats have disappeared, replaced with new ones from March of the farmers catching ducks, roasting fish and making plum wine.

Life is changing !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
With inputs taken from South China Morning Post.

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