India has been the leading producer and consumer of dairy products worldwide since 1998 with a sustained growth in the availability of milk and milk products. India also has the largest bovine population in the world. Dairy production is one of the major sustenance factors for the rural economy of India. At the national level, about 17% of the total value of output from agriculture derives from this sector, dairy market in India reached a value of INR 10,527 Billion in 2019 and the market is expected to reach a value of INR 25,491 Billion by 2025, exhibiting a compounded annual growthCAGR of around 16% during 2020-2025.Demand of milk and milk products in India is projected to increase to 191.3 million tonnes in 2020.
It is a major contributing factor to the livelihood of resource poor subsistence farmers in a number of ways: income from milk and milk products, insurance against draught, emergency cash requirements, household nutrition, fuel for cooking, manure for crops, draught power for farming etc.These positives notwithstanding, the system is confronting some of the major constraints that hinder inclusive development of the dairy sector in the country.
Apart from low productivity of the animals, there are many other problems like, large human and livestock population and its pressure on land, degraded pasture lands, shortage of feed ingredients and fodders, which need to be targeted. While the agricultural sector is witnessing a kind of stagnation or a decline in growth rate in areas where the green revolution earlier brought a new dawn for human survival against hunger and malnutrition, the dairy sector is showing a better promise.
AROH Foundation, a national level NGO is working with dairy farmers in more than 80 villagesin the states of Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh & Meghalaya, which it has adopted for Holistic Rural Development programs. During the baseline surveys, it was evident in all of these villages that in spite of a large chunk of farmers involved in dairy business, as their parallel livelihood options, milk production per animal was significantly low as to what was desired.Moreover, nearly all of the dairy produce was consumed domestically, with the majority of it being sold as fluid milk. On account of this, AROH Foundation in association with its CSR partner HDFC Bank seeking tremendous potential for value-addition and overall development of dairy farmers in the villages took Dairy as important pillar of developmental implementation.
In a strategic intervention, AROH by far has benefitted more than 2000 dairy farmersrearing Cow, Buffaloes, Goat etc with veterinarycare (systematic breeding, improved feeding and superior health care management), Building of Cattle Sheds, Awareness & training support about new and better dairy culture and aided more than 5000 cattles with veterinary support. During the unprecedented times of Covid-19 lockdown, AROH has witnessed, how village level enterprises like Dairy, Goatery, Fishery has helped villagers to develop resilience from the crisis from being #aatmnirbharand so along with offering profitable business opportunities, AROH has enabled the dairy farming as a tool of socio-economic development within villages through its series of well-planned interventions. For ensuring better yield in terms of quantity and quality, AROH has facilitated &trainedalmost every farmer with Azolla Unitsfor meeting the nutritional requirements of the livestock, particularly high yielding milch animals there is a need to increase the bioavailability of the feeds that provide low cost, organic and yield enhancing animal fodder. In this series, providing a holistic sustainable model to the farmers and village, ,AROH also has installed more than 2000 vermi composts units, which reuses and up-cycles animal dung into high quality, organic manure and has installed more than 500 Bio Gas Chulhas which has cut down carbon emission tremendously &uses animal dung as fuel and prevents villagers from respiratory illness caused by smoke of wood log cooking mediums, and eliminates hassles of fuel arrangements during rain, heat or winters.
Changing the game for Mahesh …
45 years old Mahesh Chandra from Rupaspur Village in Firozabad narrates the story of change, “I am a landless farmer with just 3 buffaloes to support my extra expenses, but this was just not sufficient!”
“AROH team reached out to me 1 year back. They trained me for better dairy business, supported with me Cattle shed, Azolla unit, so that my animals remain healthy and then installed a Bio Gas unit at my house. Not just smokeless, but easy cooking is possible for my wife Sarita too. She has stopped constant coughing too!”, he says.
He adds, “Now you know everything me, my family and my animals need is within our boundaries of my home only. They have recently told me that they will link me with government for better business. Now I know my buffaloes, some training & information and AROH is the ingredient to a better life.”
Not just self-initiated interventions, AROH has also linked dairy farmers to government initiated schemes to make their dairy business into thriving enterprise For instance, the “National Dairy Programme (Phase-I), National Programme for Dairy Development(NPDD) , Dairy Entrepreneurship Development Scheme(DEDS), Support to Dairy Cooperatives, Dairy Processing and Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF), aims to improve cattle productivity, improvise dairy enterprise and increase the production of milk expanding and strengthening and expanding the rural milk procurement infrastructure and provide greater market access to the farmers.
Welfare of dairy industries has been of key importance to Government of India too, which was evident in budgetary allocations to dairy farmers as 18% increase in allocation of funds to Animal Husbandry and Dairying sector to Rs. 3289 Crore in 2020-21 as against the revised budget estimate for 2019-20 is remarkable. Most of the dairy processing plants in the country were established during Operation Flood which need to be modernised and refurbished to make it more efficient. Announcement of the Union Finance Minister to facilitate doubling of milk processing capacity from 53.5 million MT to 108 million MT by 2025 was a welcome step. Budget 2020-21 will help sustain milk production of the country by more than 6%.The announcement to increase the coverage of artificial insemination from the present 30% to 70% in the Union Budget 2020-21 is a significant step in improving the productivity of our milch animals and milk production thereby improving the livelihoods of our dairy farmers. In addition to this, announcement for setting up a Kisan Rail in Public-Private-Partnership mode to transport perishable goods like fruits, vegetables, dairy products et al, and also refrigerated coaches in express and freight trains will further enhance the linkage between the deficit and surplus areas in the country and thus, benefit millions of producers and consumers.
The story of Mahesh is replicated many a times by AROH, but housing management aspect of the new breeds/ strains of high yielding dairy animals developed in the country also need to be addressed adequately as it is essential to realize the high milk production potential. Animal’s shelter requirement varies according to the agro-climatic conditions of the region and the socio-economic condition of its farmers.
There is also a need for revising and updating the Indian feeding standards to make them more realistic and internationally accepted systems. For updating the information about feed resources, there is a need to generate information on the level of anti-nutritional factors in the feeds. There is also the need to encourage farmer’s unions, NGOs and cooperatives to come together, work in cohesion so that we can be in a position to specify the quality of feeds as per international standards in the present era of globalization. Dairy farming in India is an ‘all season’ business. Efficient management of a dairy farm is the key to success. In India cow farming and buffalo farming are the backbone of dairy industry. On #WorldMilkDay, let us thank dairy farmers like Mahesh Chandra who are helping India to be a Swasth Bharat!