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Northeast’s mithun gets ‘food animal’ tag

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has recently recognized the mithun as a ‘food animal,’ opening doors for its commercial use. The recognition of Mithun as a ‘food animal’ and the efforts to promote its meat as a commercial product can indeed have significant economic and cultural implications for the region.

Mithun is a captivating and culturally significant bovine species found in Northeast India. Its role in the livelihoods of indigenous communities, ecological balance, and local traditions make it a species of immense importance that warrants conservation and sustainable management efforts.


  • Cultural Significance: Mithun holds deep cultural and ritual significance in the northeastern states of India, and it is considered the state animal of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. Its role in traditional practices and ceremonies reflects its importance in the cultural heritage of the region.
  • Semi-Domestication: Mithun is traditionally semi-domesticated and thrives in a free-range forest ecosystem, requiring minimal human intervention. This approach aligns with sustainable and eco-friendly agricultural practices.
  • Commercial Potential: The recognition of Mithun as a ‘food animal’ by the FSSAI has opened up opportunities for farmers and tribal communities to benefit economically from the sale and processing of Mithun meat. Its low-fat content makes it a potential premium meat product, catering to health-conscious consumers.
  • Diversification of Products: Efforts to market various Mithun products, such as vacuum-packed dry meat, pickles, soups, wafers, and instant biryani, indicate a move toward diversification and value addition, expanding its market beyond the northeastern region.

About Mithun: The Bos Gaurus of Northeast India

  • Mithun, scientifically known as Bos frontalis, is a remarkable bovine species native to the lush and hilly regions of Northeast India, particularly the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram.
  • Often referred to as the “Cattle of the Hills,” Mithun holds significant cultural, economic, and ecological importance in this region.

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