Initiatives for Dairy Development
By: SHARAD GUPTA
The Indian dairy sector has been registering a consistent annual growth of over 6 percent for the last several years. Some 70 million farmers maintaining a milch herd of 125.35 million produced a whopping 187.7 million tonnes of milk in 2018-19, worth nearly Rs 6,60,000 crore. This is more than the combined value of wheat and paddy, our two prime crops.
During the fight against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of India’s recent announcements under Atma-Nirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) initiative are notable. These include amendments to the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 to enable better price realisation for farmers; agricultural marketing reforms, by formulating central legislation removing inter-state agricultural trade restrictions; and, enforcing quality standards and price assurance of agricultural produce through a facilitative legal framework.
The government has also announced some significant measures to boost the dairy sector and give an impetus to rural incomes. These include extension of Kisan Credit Card facility to milk producers and interest subvention to dairy cooperatives.
A Rs 13,343-crore National Animal Disease Control Programme (NADCP) to eradicate Foot-and-Mouth Disease and Brucellosis is the world’s largest vaccination programme. It aims to control these economically debilitating diseases by 2025 and their subsequent eradication by 2030. The recently created Rs 15,000-crore Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) should boost investment in dairy and meat processing, and establishment of animal feed plants.
Besides measures for control of animal diseases, there have been other significant initiatives such as scientific management and upgradation of genetic resources; increasing availability of nutritious feed and fodder; strengthening infrastructure for production of pure and quality milk etc. However, the most challenging of all schemes is the world’s biggest project of tagging every bovine animal to enable their proper identification and traceability of their products. This tag or Pashu Aadhaar contains a unique ID number which will be fed to a platform named as Information Network for Animal Productivity and Health (INAPH) managed by the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB). This database will help devise strategies for effective management of India’s livestock resources.
To increase the reach of artificial insemination (AI), the Nationwide Artificial Insemination Programme (NAIP) was launched last year, fully funded by the central government. Currently, AI coverage is 30 percent and the target is to reach 100 percent of the breedable cattle population by the end of five years. Multipurpose AI Technicians in Rural India (MAITRIs) will deliver breeding inputs at farmers’ doorstep.
For the first time, genomic selection has been introduced for indigenous cattle and buffalo breeds. In addition, IVF technique for propagation of elite animals at a faster rate has also been introduced along with sex sorted semen production technology available only in USA till now. Use of sex sorted semen will not only enhance milk production through birth of more than 90 percent female calves but would also help limit the population of male cattle/stray cattle.
The Rashtriya Gokul Mission (RGM) aims to conserve and develop our indigenous bovine breeds thus enhancing their milk production and productivity. Integrated Indigenous Cattle Development Centres or Gokul Grams are being established under this scheme. A Nucleus Herd of all the indigenous bovine breeds will be conserved and developed at the National Kamdhenu Breeding Centres (NKBCs).
In addition, efforts for strengthening infrastructure for production and procurement of quality milk are being encouraged through a National Programme for Dairy Development (NPDD). It focuses on creating and strengthening of infrastructure by the dairy cooperatives. A Quality Milk Programme has also been launched to achieve Global (Codex) standards.
Aiming to generate self-employment, the Dairy Entrepreneurship Development Scheme (DEDS) is being implemented through NABARD to provide financial assistance to commercially bankable projects.
Launched in March 2012 and implemented by NDDB, the National Dairy Plan-Phase I (NDP-I) is a scientifically planned multi-state initiative to increase productivity of milch animals and thereby increase milk production as well as provide rural milk producers with greater access to the organised dairy sector. NDP-I which concluded in November 2019 has been seamlessly succeeded by its second phase. The projected financial outlay for NDP-II is expected to be about Rs 8,000 crore. The primary focus would now shift to improving the milk processing infrastructure and creating market access in remote and unexplored areas of the country.
The Dairy Processing and Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF) focuses on creation, modernisation, expansion of processing infrastructure and manufacturing facilities for value added dairy products. Focus is also on setting up of chilling infrastructure and installation of electronic milk testing equipment at village level. This scheme has a total corpus of Rs 10,881 crore under which dairy cooperatives will be provided financial assistance.
The NITI Aayog has projected the country’s milk production to touch 330 million tonnes by 2033-34. The initiatives by the Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying, if implemented in right earnest, will not only help achieve this target but also lead to the emergence of modern dairying as a full-fledged agribusiness enhancing human nutrition and generating mass employment.