The Emu bird growers established their units financed by various commercial banks under the guidelines of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) during the Congress-led UPA government promising higher income and marketing facilities as well as subsidies. The farmers were told that Emu bird and its allied products, including meat, are much in demand abroad and would help them earn a fortune. The Emu bird growers were sanctioned a loan of Rs 30 lakh for one unit across the country. The farmers established Emu bird farms under the NABARD Venture Capital Fund loans. During the sanctioning of loans, the farmers gave the collateral securities to the commercial banks.
In 2005, NABARD offered Rs 15 lakh as interest-free loan up to nine years for a single unit of hundred Emu birds. Another Rs 12 lakh loan was taken from other banks, Rs 3 lakh being the investment of the beneficiary of the scheme. NABARD had even offered to bear the interest on the loan up to Rs 6 lakh taken from the banks if the repayments were regular. The farmers attracted with this promotion of NABARD set up the units of Emu breeding.
About 200 farmers in Andhra Pradesh, 150 farmers in Telangana and 90 farmers in Maharashtra have set up Emu bird farms. However, their hopes have faded as NABARD failed to keep up its promise. To survive, the farmers tried to continue the breeding of the birds. Even they made all-out efforts to market them but could not get any encouragement either from NABARD or the Centre.
The birds have grown old and the chicks have grown up. With no income coming from them the farmers repeatedly submitted memoranda to NABARD and the Centre to save them as they were unable to bear the recurring expenditure on maintaining the birds and running the farm. With debts mounting they had to sell off their land and other properties to support their operations.
The Emu farming venture having landed them in bankruptcy, the farmers are not able to repay the loans now. Adding to this misery, the banks have issued notices to the farmers to repay the loans with interest. Even the farmers submitted representations on this to the Centre and NABARD but so far no favourable response has been received from them.
Recently, the banks have issued notices to the farmers to repay the laon with interest or otherwise they will auction the properties of the farmers, which they gave as collateral security. The Emu bird association in the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh (Andhra Pradesh State Association for Farmers of Emu (APSAFE) coordinator M Pushpa Vani Chowdary talking to The Hans India said: “NABARD has ruined our lives. Emu farming concept was not a scheme but a big scam.
It has left us bankrupt and our families are in distress." She said if the Centre does not waive off the loans taken by the Emu farmers on the pretext of NABARD, they have no other option except to commit suicide with their family members." She said now almost all the Emu bird farm units become sick units. No activity was witnessed as it has burdened the farmer.
P Suryanarayana Raju of Tadepalligudem, an Emu farmer, said “NABARD has given us training on Emu breeding at Rajendranagar and promised to provide marketing facility till 2020 but they have never bothered about marketing." He said Emu farmers have already submitted memoranda to Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, Agricultural Minister Prattipati Pulla Rao and Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. They promised to look into the matter and do justice.