LIVESTOCK SECTOR IN INDIA
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Context: A Regional Review Meeting chaired by the Union Secretary of the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying focused on the progress and implementation of various programs and schemes related to the Animal Husbandry and Dairy sector in the Northern States.
- The meeting highlighted the growth of the livestock sector, which has been consistently growing at a high Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.67% from 2014-15 to 2021-22 (at constant prices). This growth is attributed to various parameters within the Livestock Sector, including Dairy, Bovine, Poultry, Goatery, and Piggery.
- The livestock sector contributed approximately 30.19% to the total Gross Value Added (GVA) of the agriculture and allied sectors in the year 2021-22 (at constant prices).
- The Union Secretary reviewed both the physical and financial progress of animal husbandry and dairying schemes being implemented by the Government of India in the Northern States and Union Territories. She stressed the need to utilize unspent balances with the States/UTs and to address issues such as legacy data updation and interest on payments through Bharatkosh.
Overall, the meeting aimed to assess the progress of animal husbandry and dairying programs, address challenges and strategize for the betterment of the sector and the farmers involved.
Livestock Sector in India
- The livestock sector has always been an integral part of India's agriculture and rural economy. It encompasses various aspects such as dairy farming, poultry, goat farming, pig farming, and more. Livestock contributes significantly to food security, employment generation, and income enhancement in both rural and urban areas.
Key features of the livestock sector in India
- India's diverse agro-climatic zones have led to a rich variety of livestock species and breeds that are adapted to different regions and purposes. This diversity includes various indigenous breeds of cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, poultry, and other species. These breeds often possess unique characteristics suited to local conditions, such as draught capability, disease resistance, and adaptability to specific climates.
- Mixed farming is a sustainable agricultural practice where livestock and crop cultivation are integrated. Livestock provides multiple benefits to mixed farming systems. They supply organic manure, which enriches the soil and improves its fertility, thereby enhancing crop yields. Additionally, crop residues, green fodder, and agro-industrial byproducts serve as feed for livestock, contributing to their nutrition.
Contribution to Agriculture
- Livestock plays a critical role in enhancing agricultural productivity. Livestock-generated organic manure is a valuable source of nutrients that enriches soil health, improves its structure, and promotes nutrient cycling. In regions with limited mechanization, livestock also contributes to ploughing and transportation activities, reducing the physical burden on farmers and facilitating cultivation.
Food and Nutrition
- Livestock products, such as milk, meat, and eggs, provide essential nutrients that are integral to human nutrition. Milk is an excellent source of high-quality protein, calcium, and vitamins. Meat and eggs are rich in protein, essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Livestock products contribute significantly to addressing protein and micronutrient deficiencies in the Indian diet.
- The livelihoods of millions of rural households in India are closely linked to the livestock sector. Small and marginal farmers, as well as landless labourers, rely on livestock for supplementary income. Livestock rearing offers a reliable source of livelihood, particularly during times of crop failure. Women often play a significant role in livestock care and management, contributing to their empowerment and economic independence.
Overall, these features highlight the integral role of the livestock sector in various aspects of Indian society and the economy, from agricultural productivity and food security to rural livelihoods and nutrition. The sector's diverse contributions make it an indispensable component of India's rural landscape.
Significance of the livestock sector in India's economy and society
- The livestock sector is a vital contributor to India's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and agricultural GDP. It generates revenue through the sale of livestock products, such as milk, meat, eggs, and other byproducts. The economic impact extends beyond direct sales to include related industries like dairy processing, meat processing, leather production, and more. This sector's economic contributions have far-reaching implications for rural and national economies.
- Livestock products, particularly milk and meat, play a crucial role in addressing food security challenges. These products are essential sources of protein and essential nutrients, contributing to balanced diets for a large population. Reliable access to milk and animal-sourced foods is crucial for ensuring that people have access to the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development.
- The livestock sector is a significant source of employment, offering diverse job opportunities for individuals across different demographics. It generates employment directly through activities like animal husbandry, veterinary care, and livestock-related businesses. Additionally, it creates indirect employment in associated sectors such as transportation, feed manufacturing, and marketing.
- Livestock rearing provides an avenue for poverty alleviation, particularly among small and marginal farmers. The sector offers a means of income diversification, allowing farmers to reduce their reliance solely on crop cultivation. Income from livestock products acts as a safety net during times of crop failure, contributing to better financial stability for vulnerable rural communities.
- The livestock sector serves as a link between rural and urban areas. It connects rural producers with urban consumers by supplying livestock products to urban markets. This link is essential for ensuring the availability of fresh and nutritious products to urban populations while providing income opportunities to rural communities. The sector's role in bridging the rural-urban gap contributes to regional economic integration.
Livelihoods for Women
- Livestock rearing offers substantial opportunities for women's participation in income-generating activities. Activities like backyard poultry farming, dairy management, and small-scale animal husbandry empower women by involving them in economic activities. This not only contributes to their financial independence but also enhances their social status within their families and communities.
- Livestock contributes to sustainable agriculture by providing natural and organic fertilizers in the form of manure. This reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, which can have negative environmental impacts.
- Livestock contributes to nutrient cycling in agricultural ecosystems. Manure from livestock can enrich the soil with essential nutrients, enhancing soil fertility and productivity.
- Livestock can consume certain agricultural byproducts and food waste that might otherwise contribute to waste management challenges.
- Livestock farming can contribute to the conservation of indigenous livestock breeds, promoting genetic diversity and preserving local adaptation.
- Managed grazing and integrated livestock-crop systems can contribute to carbon sequestration in soils, mitigating climate change impacts.
Key steps taken by India to promote and enhance the livestock sector
National Livestock Mission
- The National Livestock Mission (NLM) is a flagship program aimed at promoting sustainable growth in the livestock sector. It focuses on improving breed quality, enhancing animal healthcare, and ensuring sufficient availability of fodder. NLM supports various activities such as breed improvement, veterinary care, disease control, feed and fodder management, and capacity building for livestock farmers. By addressing these aspects, NLM contributes to the overall development and productivity of the livestock sector.
National Dairy Plan
- The National Dairy Plan (NDP) is a strategic initiative to boost milk production by enhancing the genetic potential of dairy animals, primarily cattle and buffalo. This plan aims to achieve sustainable milk production growth through genetic improvement, including the use of artificial insemination and improved breeding techniques. By enhancing milk production, NDP directly contributes to improving the livelihoods of dairy farmers and meeting the growing demand for milk and milk products.
Poultry Development Scheme
- The Poultry Development Scheme focuses on enhancing poultry production, particularly in rural areas. This scheme aims to address challenges in poultry farming, including breed quality, disease control, and nutrition. It promotes the adoption of improved poultry breeds, disease management practices, and efficient feeding methods. By boosting poultry production, the scheme supports rural livelihoods, nutrition, and employment opportunities.
Livestock Insurance Schemes
- Livestock insurance schemes have been introduced to provide financial protection to farmers against losses resulting from livestock deaths due to natural calamities, diseases, and accidents. These schemes help farmers mitigate risks associated with livestock rearing and provide a safety net during adverse situations. By providing insurance coverage, these schemes encourage farmers to invest in livestock rearing without the fear of catastrophic losses.
Challenges that the livestock sector in India faces
- Livestock diseases like Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), Avian Influenza, Brucellosis, and more can lead to substantial economic losses and affect both animal health and productivity. Effective disease management, including timely vaccination, biosecurity measures, and disease surveillance, is crucial to safeguarding livestock and maintaining their overall well-being.
- Access to high-quality breeding animals and advanced breeding technologies is essential for improving livestock productivity and genetic traits. The lack of access to improved genetic material can hinder efforts to enhance the quality of livestock breeds, impacting factors such as growth rate, milk yield, and disease resistance.
Feed and Fodder Scarcity
- The availability of nutritious feed and fodder is a critical factor influencing livestock productivity. In many regions, inadequate access to quality feed negatively affects the health and growth of animals. Addressing this challenge requires implementing sustainable fodder cultivation practices, promoting silage and green fodder production, and exploring alternative feed sources.
- Limited market access and inadequate processing and storage facilities can hinder farmers' ability to fetch fair prices for their livestock products. Efficient supply chains, cold storage facilities, and improved processing methods are essential to ensure that farmers receive better returns for their efforts.
- Changing climatic patterns, including temperature fluctuations and irregular rainfall, can have adverse effects on livestock health, behaviour, and productivity. Heat stress, water scarcity, and altered grazing patterns are some of the climate-related challenges that impact the sector. Implementing climate-resilient practices and adaptation strategies can help mitigate these challenges.
Way Forward to address the challenges and further enhance the livestock sector in India
- Disease Control: Strengthening disease control measures involves improved disease surveillance, early detection, and effective vaccination programs. Collaborative efforts between government agencies, veterinarians, and farmers can help prevent and manage diseases, ensuring better livestock health and productivity.
- Breed Improvement: Focus on breed improvement through selective breeding, artificial insemination, and conservation of indigenous breeds. Genetic improvement can lead to animals with higher productivity, disease resistance, and adaptability to changing environmental conditions.
- Feed and Fodder Management: Promoting the cultivation of nutritious fodder crops and adopting efficient feed management practices can enhance livestock nutrition. Encouraging techniques such as silage production, hydroponic fodder cultivation, and agro-industrial byproduct utilization can help overcome feed scarcity challenges.
- Value Addition: Enhancing value addition involves improving the processing, packaging, and marketing of livestock products. This can be achieved through the establishment of modern processing units, cold storage facilities, and value-added product development. Effective marketing strategies can help farmers fetch better prices for their products.
- Research and Innovation: Investing in research and development is crucial for advancing livestock management practices, disease control, and sustainable production. Research can lead to innovative solutions such as improved disease-resistant breeds, climate-resilient practices, and efficient management techniques.
- Skill Development: Providing training and extension services to farmers is essential for disseminating knowledge about best practices in livestock management. Training programs can cover aspects such as animal husbandry, healthcare, feeding, and sustainable farming practices.
- Policy Support: Creating favourable policy frameworks that address challenges and promote sustainable growth is vital. Policies should incentivize investments in livestock, provide access to credit and insurance, encourage breed conservation, and facilitate market access for farmers.
- India's livestock sector plays a pivotal role in the nation's economy, food security, rural livelihoods, and environmental sustainability. Despite challenges like disease management and feed scarcity, a multi-pronged approach encompassing improved breeding, advanced practices, value addition, and policy support is essential for its holistic development. By embracing innovation and collaboration, India can ensure a thriving livestock sector that empowers farmers, nourishes populations and fosters sustainable growth.
CREDIT GUARANTEE SCHEME FOR LIVESTOCK SECTOR: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/credit-guarantee-scheme-for-livestock-sector
LIVESTOCK INSURANCE SCHEME: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/livestock-insurance-scheme
Q. What strategies can India adopt to tackle the prevalent challenges in its livestock sector, encompassing disease control and feed scarcity, and how can these efforts be aligned with goals of economic growth, enhanced food security, and the sustainable upliftment of rural livelihoods?