India dairy seeks more state investment to stay on top

Bangalore, Feb 16 (Calcutta Tube) The Indian Dairy Association (IDA) Tuesday sought greater investment by central and state governments to enhance milk productivity and increase value added products to ensure the country retained its ‘numero uno’ position in the world.

‘Though India is the world’s largest milk producer, the per capita yield is 950 litres a year, which is abysmally lower than of Pakistan’s 1,400 litres per annum,’ National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) head Satish Kulkarni told reporters.

With a whopping annual sales turnover of Rs.1.1 trillion and 105 million tonnes of production per annum, the dairy industry contributes immensely to the country’s agricultural growth, creating millions of direct and indirect jobs.

‘Most of the investments by state-run organisations go into agriculture and allied activities leaving very little for the growth and development of the dairy sector. There is a need to scale investments in animal husbandry, veterinary practices, quality feed and best healthcare facilities,’ Kulkarni said on the eve of the 38th Dairy Industry Conference here.

The high-powered committee of the Planning Commission, headed by N.R. Bhasin, recently recommended significant measures to increase the per cattle yield to 1,200 litres of milk per annum by 2012.

‘The stakeholders should focus on improving the feed and fodder resources, technology transfer and extension in animal husbandry and dairying sector to ensure higher productivity. The department of animal husbandry and dairying (DAHD) should prune the number of schemes (24) to provide genetic make-up and animal health facilities,’ Kulkarni noted.

The 10-member committee also suggested that the central sector and centrally sponsored scheme in future should be taken up in three distinct streams.

The first stream should comprise five schemes of national importance such as cattle and buffalo breeding or development project, national livestock extension programme and national project on control of animal diseases.

The second should have schemes of regional importance on species specific or state specific projects like development of the dairy sector, sheep, goats and pigs in the north-eastern states. And the third stream should cover schemes implemented through Nabard (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) as venture capital fund.

The panel also recommended that schemes like ‘Operation Flood’ and ‘non-Operation Flood’ for implementing the venture capital fund should be abolished.

Of the total milk production, 47 percent is consumed at the village level while the rest is shared by cities and towns.

Cooperative societies, which spearheaded the ‘white revolution’ in the country under the leadership of former National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) chairman Verghese Kurien, account for about 80 percent of the total milk production and value added products.

Accounting for about 14 percent of the world’s milk production, the Indian dairy industry has been growing at four percent as against the world’s average growth of eight percent.

‘We have to double the growth to eight percent in the next two-three years if the share of agriculture sector to the GDP (gross domestic product) has to be four percent,’ Kulkarni said.

According to the 1992 livestock census, head of cattle in the country numbered 205 million, which was one-sixth of the world’s total, including 84 million buffaloes and about 120 million cows.

‘On the export front, we have not been able to capitalise on the opportunities and tap new markets. As a result, export turnover was Rs.1,000 crore (Rs.10 billion) last fiscal (2008-09), thanks to the on-and-off government policy to ban exports during lean season and lifting it during glut,’ Kulkarni lamented.

The organised sector led by cooperative societies and private firms contribute 15 percent of the total milk production and generates about Rs.28,000 crore (Rs.280 billion), accounting for around 16 percent of the total revenue.

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