Daily News Analysis

Military Farms Service

2nd April, 2021 Schemes

Context: The Indian Army formally closed the Military Farms Service, which administered the 130 military farms all across the country.

What is the history of Military Farms and what was their role in the Indian Army?

  • The first Military Farm was established in 1889 at Allahabad by the British.
  • The basic aim with which these farms were subsequently set up across the length and breadth of the country was to ensure nutritious milk supply to the troops deployed in India.
  • Apart from supplying milk and butter, the Military Farms also supplied hay to the Animal Transport units of the Indian Army.
  • Gradually, the role of Military Farms had expanded from only milk production to artificial insemination of cows too and the first pioneering steps in this regard were taken as early as in 1925.
  • In collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Military Farms undertook ‘Project Frieswal’ one of the largest cross-cattle breeding programmes in the country, its aim was “to produce and rear Holstein Friesian cross bread with Sahiwal breed for high milk productivity”.

What is the genesis of the decision to close military farms?

  • The proliferation of dairy business in the country had ensured that fresh milk could be procured in every corner of the country and there was no longer any forced dependence on Military Farms.
  • In 2016, a committee under Lt Gen DB Shekatkar (retd) submitted a report on reorganisation of several branches of the Army in which it was recommended that the Military Farms be closed down.
  • The government wishes to save nearly Rs 280 crores per year which was spent on the upkeep of the farms, the cattle and for salaries to the staff.
  • There is nearly 20,000 acres of land which belongs to Military Farms throughout the country and most of it is in prized locations.