Indian officials tell poor people to start eating rats: ‘The beauty is we have billions of them’

Indians living in one of the country’s poorest state have been told to eat rats.

The rodents are already consumed by an impoverished caste in Bihar called the Musahars or ‘rat-eaters’  –  but most people find the idea distasteful.

Now state officials are asking hotels and restaurants to devise interesting ways of poaching, roasting or stewing the meat.

‘Once people accept it as just another meat like chicken or mutton, it will become popular,’ said Vijay Prakash, Bihar’s social welfare secretary.

Rat meat is already cooked in some Bihar villages and Mr Prakash’s mission is to spread the taste to urban areas because poor rat-catchers will only make enough money once demand grows.

‘It is very high in protein and the beauty is that we have billions of rats,’ he said.

He wants rat snacks served at bus and train stations, and roadside cafes.

‘In the countryside, in roadside cafes, people have rats as a snack with drinks,’ he added.

Mr Prakash’s objective is to give Bihar’s poor a source of nourishment and income.

‘India has about eight rats per person. If rat meat sells for 50 rupees a kilo and each rat weighs a kilo  –  field rats are fat and heavy  –  then a poor family can make 150 rupees a day by catching just three rats.

‘Once it becomes as normal as chicken, then I will encourage people to start rat farming.’