by - Dr.Pradeep Kumar, Secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries

Milk is not only a staple food but is an instrument of economic progress. Dairying is one of the most important livelihood options for the rural poor in India. India’s growth in the dairy sector has been phenomenal and has enabled it to claim the position of the largest producer of milk in the world. India is estimated to produce about 102 million tonnes of milk by 2007-08 and the milk production has been growing at the rate of 4% per annum.

Dairy development in India has been an effective and important instrument of rural development as it generates self-employment opportunity, increases the income of landless, marginal and small farmers while providing the much needed nutrition to people. Compared to other agricultural products the inherent qualities of dairying, such as relative stability in yield and price, regular cash flow throughout the year, utilization of family labour, use of crop residues as cattle feed has helped in laying a stable foundation for rural development. Contributing about 5.3% to India’s agricultural GDP, milk is a leading agricultural produce. The value of output from milk at current prices during 2006-07 has been over Rs.144386 crore which is higher than the output from paddy (Rs.85032 crore) and also higher than the combined value of output from wheat (Rs.66791 crore) and sugarcane (Rs.28488 crore). As many as 120 million rural families are engaged in dairying.

Phenomenal Growth
This phenomenal growth in dairy sector can be attributed to a great extent to the various initiatives of the Government starting with Operation Flood followed by schemes like Integrated Dairy Development Project (IDDP) in non-operation flood, hilly and backward areas. Various initiatives in the last few years have been taken, which are:-
* Reorienting IDDP to cover districts which received nil or less than 50 lakh investment for dairy development activities during Operation Flood. Under this 100% grant is provided for development of milch cattle, increasing milk production by providing technical inputs; creating infrastructure for procurement, processing and marketing of milk; strengthening of dairy cooperative societies at village level.
* Strengthening Infrastructure for Quality and Clean Milk Production (CMP) scheme to improve the quality of raw milk produced at village level by creating awareness among dairy farmers and setting up of bulk milk coolers at the dairy cooperative societies.
* Dairy Venture Capital Fund to bring about structural changes in the unorganized sector by providing interest free loan for various activities related to milk processing, marketing, upgradation of traditional technology etc, with the Government of India contributing 50% of the projects as interest free loan. The scheme covers establishment of small dairy farms, purchase of milking machines, bulk milk coolers, dairy processing equipments, establishment of cold chain facilities and cold storage facilities among other things.
Under IDDP the Government has approved 84 projects covering 206 districts with an outlay of 480 crore since inception, benefiting about 15 lakh farmers in 24814 villages. Around 130 projects with a total cost of Rs.195 crore have been approved under Clean Milk Production scheme, benefiting 4.17 lakh farmers and creating a chilling capacity of 15.56 lakh litres per day and strengthening of 685 existing laboratories. Under Dairy Venture Capital Fund, nearly 700 dairy units have been sanctioned.
Further, the Government has been implementing genetic improvement programme titled “National Project for Cattle and Buffalo Breeding” with a total outlay of Rs.1178 crore during X and XI plans. Under this,100% grant is provided to improve and provide artificial insemination services at farmers doorstep; to cover all breedable females under organized breeding, undertake breed improvement programme for indigenous cattle and buffaloes and for bull production programme. The Government has also launched a centrally sponsored Fodder Development Scheme to address the feed and fodder requirement of the sector during the X Plan. Under this, assistance is provided for fodder block making units, development of grasslands, fodder seed production and distribution and for research projects to improve feed and fodder quality.
The Department is working on a comprehensive Feed and Fodder Scheme for the XI plan period. In addition, the Government is implementing a Livestock Health and Disease Control Programme under which assistance is provided for disease control, rinderpest eradication and control of foot and mouth disease in addition to professional efficiency development. An amount of Rs.1300 crore has been earmarked for this during XI plan. Despite all these efforts the country’s per capita availability of milk is still lower at 246 grams per day as against the world’s average of 285 grams per day. The productivity of milch animal is only about 987 kg per lactation as against the world average of 2,308 kg. This low productivity is due to gradual genetic deterioration resulting in the rise of population of nondescript cows and buffaloes. The other factors contributing to low productivity are shortage of feed and fodder and their poor nutritive value. The other constraint in dairy sector is that only about 15-16% of the milk produced (30% of the marketable surplus) is handled in organized sector and the quality aspects need improvement and investment in value addition as well as development of indigenous products needs to be increased.

National Dairy Plan
A study conducted by Planning Commission, ‘Vision 2020; Food Security and Nutrition’, through Shri R Radhakrishnan and K. Venkata reddy has estimated that demand for milk in 2020 would be about 166 million tonnes. This will require continued production of milk at 4% every year. In real terms this will be a challenge because India added an average of about 2.5 million tonnes of milk annually in the last 15 years.
In order to achieve this production level by 2020 the average incremental annual output of milk has to double from 2.5 million tonnes to 5 million tonnes in the next 15 years. This requires a focused national initiative and a National Dairy Plan is under contemplation to achieve the objective. National Dairy Plan is a strategic plan under consideration of the government to address the needs of dairy sector so as to meet the demand for milk, driven by burgeoning population, rising income due to accelerated GDP growth and increased export opportunities. This plan with an outlay of more than Rs.17000 crores proposes to achieve a target of 180 million tonnes of milk annually by 2022. Under this plan the Government is contemplating to enhance milk production in major milk producing areas, strengthen and expand infrastructure to procure, process and market milk through the existing and new institutional structures. A consortium consisting of NDDB, NABARD and NCDC is envisaged to implement this scheme by categorizing districts into two categories, 324 high potential districts for intensive development and remaining 282 low potential districts for further expansion of the sector.

The plan envisages breed improvement through AI and through natural service. Since feed/fodder constitutes 70% of the cost of milk production, it is proposed to set up plants to augment cattle feed, by- pass protein and mineral mixture. Setting up of fodder seed and fodder desalination and quality control labs are also envisaged. The plan also proposes to bring 65% of the milk produced under organized sector for procurement as against the present 30%. However, it may not be possible for the cooperative sector to accomplish this as it would require them to increase procurement by fourfold to achieve 800 lakh kg per day as it requires doubling their current coverage of villages and trippling the current coverage of dairy households. Hence, the NDP envisages a complimentary cooperative strategy under which producer companies would be set up under Companies Act. The Government is exploring World Bank assistance to bring down the cost on the Government and also to provide loans at a cheaper rate. The Government has also launched a new scheme called Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana(RKVY) with a massive investment of Rs.25000 crore during the XI Plan period to promote agriculture and allied sectors. Under this any activity that promotes dairy development can also be taken up by the State Government for which 100% central assistance is provided. State governments have been advised to accord highest priority to Animal Husbandry and Dairying sectors commensurate with their contribution to the agricultural output. With huge potential available in the dairy sector in the form of domestic demand and scope for exports, various initiatives of the government are expected to make the country self-sufficient and a global power in dairy sector. This would not only increase per capita milk availability, income and employment generation but also would empower millions of the downtrodden and women who play a crucial role in dairying in this country. A target of 5% growth has been set for dairy sector for the XI plan and an outlay of Rs.8174 crore have been provided for Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries, a hike of 300% over X plan.

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