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Animal Husbandry in India
News: Recently, a regional Review Meeting for the Animal Husbandry and Dairy sector highlighted that the livestock sector is consistently growing at a high Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.67% during 2014-15 to 2021-22.
Which factors have contributed to the growth of the sector?
• It is emerging as a reliable source of livelihood for farmers compared to crop cultivation.
• Climate change vulnerabilities have impacted crop productivity prompting farmers to rethink their approach and adopting animal husbandry.
• Growing demand for animal products - The consumption of milk, meat, eggs, and other animal products is increasing in India due to rising income, urbanization, and changing food habits. Animal husbandry can help farmers to meet this demand and earn higher profits. Animal products also have higher value addition and export potential than crops.
• Food and income security - Animal husbandry can ensure household-level food and income security for farmers. Animals can provide nutritious food, such as milk and eggs, for the family as well as for sale. Animals can also act as a source of savings and insurance in times of need. Animal husbandry can also create employment opportunities for rural youth and women.
• Livestock’s contribution to the gross value added (GVA) has risen, while crops’ share has decreased.
• There were five million women members in dairy cooperatives in 2015-2016, and this increased further to 5.4 million in 2020-2021. Thus, women empowerment in the sector has helped as well.
What are the challenges faced by the sector?
• Low productivity - The average milk yield of Indian cattle and buffaloes is much lower than the global average. Similarly, the meat and egg production per animal is also low compared to other countries.
• Insurance - Currently, only 6% of the animal heads (excluding poultry) are provided insurance cover.
• Lack of quality breeding bulls and semen - The availability of quality breeding bulls and semen is a major constraint for improving the genetic potential of livestock. Many semen production laboratories produce semen of poor quality and do not follow the prescribed standards.
• Animal diseases and health care - The animal husbandry sector suffers from various infectious and parasitic diseases that affect the health, productivity, and profitability of livestock. Some of these diseases are also zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted to humans.
• Policy and institutional constraints - The animal husbandry sector lacks a coherent policy framework that can address its challenges and opportunities.
• Lack of organized markets and value addition - The majority of livestock products are sold in unorganized markets that do not offer remunerative prices to farmers.
• Establishment of Gene Banks - Preserving indigenous breeds of livestock is crucial as they are disease resistant, and adaptable to climate.
• One Health Approach - It recognises that animal health, human health and the environment are inextricably connected.
• Cadre of Wildlife-Trained Veterinarians - For monitoring wildlife health and treating wildlife diseases.