Indian economy primarily depends upon agricultural inputs for development. Simultaneous to agriculture, the population across urban and rural establishments has also indulged in animal rearing and husbandry. India is a home to one of the oldest civilisations of the world; therefore the practice of domestication and breeding of animals has been going on for millennia together.
In the present times, animal rearing has become a global human practice and is a part of trade at domestic as well as international markets. This stresses on the fact that animal husbandry has become an integral part of growth of economy. With the advancement in technology, the procedures of animal rearing and manufacturing of animal products have become more and more refined.
The sector of animal rearing has identified human dependence on animal products and capitalises on this to improve the economy of a nation. There are a variety of animals being reared for multiple products. Be it food products like dairy, meat or oils or fabrics, muscle labour, etc. every factor contributes equally in the socioeconomic growth. Therefore, it is important to understand the effects of animal rearing on the economy and how it can be utilised to improve the existing economic condition.
Contribution of Animal Rearing in the Indian Economy
Livestock rearing shares 25% of the total agricultural contribution to the GDP. It is a source of living for millions of Indians who are self-employed in this sector. After successful implementation of Operation flood and the white revolution, India became the largest producer of milk and dairy products generating about 21% of the global milk production. With 6.3 million tons, India stands as the 5th largest producer of meat even though India is home to the largest vegetarian population.
This includes the meat of cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry. Amongst livestock trade, India ranks second in cattle wealth. It has the highest share in buffalo trade, ranks third in the global sheep population as well as has the fifth highest population of ducks and chicken- staple meat diet birds. The fishery industry has developed ten folds since 1947 and India is second only to China in terms of global fish production. Additionally, India is a dominant player in wool, silk and other animal derived fabrics.
Animal production system that flourishes in India forms one half of the crop-livestock farming system and is vital to maintain job security of majority of the rural population in India. Livestock rearing generates income and provides employment, animal labour and manure. Furthermore, rapid urbanisation has led to many changes in diet and food preferences which have led to increase in demand of meat, eggs and milk, thereby boosting the market for these products and widening the horizons of animal rearing.
Dairy and Livestock Production
Milk and cattle form the major share of the animal rearing sector of India. This is the reason why India ranks so high in world production of these products. Additionally milk has been an important part of the diet of Indians and is utilised to make many types of dishes in both north as well as south Indian cuisines.
Other dairy products like cheese, cream and butter have increased urban demands as a result of popularisation of western diets. Livestock has more uses than being food products. Cattle are a source of milk and meat. They provide manure utilised as fuel for cooking as well as a source of energy (biogas). They are also utilised for their draught power in ploughing farm fields and transportation.
The government of India has promoted growth in the dairy sector through many schemes. Additionally, individual support by Dr Kurien Varghese, the father of white revolution and founder of Anand Milk Union Limited had given a boost to milk production in India. Dairy sector has provided millions of employment at primary, secondary as well as tertiary sectors of economy. Dairy infrastructure in India is of cooperative type.
Two important schemes drafted by the government include the Dairy Development Programme and National Project for Cattle and Buffalo Breeding. These schemes were started in October 2003 under which the quality and quantity of milk produced as well as cattle breeding were stressed upon.
Awareness was created in villages and semi-rural areas which had the majority of dairy and livestock businesses. Assistance was being provided to sick cooperatives to revitalise them. Additionally, in 2004, Dairy Venture Capital Fund was initiated which underwent major reforms and was implemented as the Dairy Entrepreneurship Development Scheme in 2010.
Modern science and technology were being vehemently applied to improve the breed of cattle and other productive animals to improve the yield of meat, milk and draught labour. The Centre took the initiative in the form of Nation Project of Cattle and Buffalo Breeding in which many states took part.
One of the most significantly used technologies is the Artificial Insemination (AI) technology which involves collection of seminal fluid from the bull, cryo-storage and fertilisation. As many as 21,000 AI centres have been established across the country. Other techniques employed involve scientific programmes like Embryo Transfer Technology (ETT), Multi Ovulation Embryo Transfer Technology (MOET) and Markers Assisted Selection (MAS).
Major challenges that livestock and dairy sector face are-
- Poor genetic pool leading to non-availability of superior bull races.
- Inadequately skilled veterinarian services
- Shortage of fodder and nutrition resources
- Lack of coordination between farmers and administration
- Improper animal health management
To overcome these challenges, a holistic genetic improvement programme can help produce superior quality bull and bull semen to create elite livestock progeny. Disease reporting and diagnosis can be improved by training and employing bovine veterinarians and building vet hospitals and clinics in remote rural areas while develop the existing numbers of vet clinics in semi-rural and urban areas.
The present disease reporting system is slow and can be improved by opening online and offline cells and increasing awareness amongst breeders. Furthermore, additional manpower to fill in the gaps in administration can improve the efficiency of administrative services in this sector.
Livestock Rearing in Curbing Poverty
Poverty is a predominant socioeconomic evil that has been troubling India for ages now. Livestock rearing is one of the model ways to put an end to this issue. One major reason is due to the fact that distribution of livestock is more equitable than land.
Therefore, compared to crop sector, developing the livestock sector is much more democratic and holistic as it empowers even the small landholders and landless citizens. While assessing inclusive growth, from equity and livelihood standpoint, livestock rearing should be considered in poverty alleviation programmes.
Another important factor that is looked after by Livestock sector is woman empowerment in rural area. Livestock management at household level is predominantly woman-led; therefore all the decisions regarding rearing of animals in homes are under the woman’s advice. This can be utilised as the foundation of rural women empowerment programmes and improve the gender ratio of livestock employment.
Meat and Poultry Production
While a part of meat production comes from the livestock department which includes beef, mutton and pork while another part comes from fisheries, the major constituent of non-vegetarian diet in India consists of chicken and eggs. Despite of many restraints in this sector, meat and poultry production has somewhat flourished in the Indian markets. Technological developments have especially increased the figures over the last decade. Central Poultry Development Organisation is the main body that governs the poultry of India. The government funds poultry farmers in three distinct mechanisms-
- Assistance to State Poultry Farms: One time assistance; aims to reinforce farms by improving technology of hatchery, brooding and rearing houses. It provides laying houses for birds with in-house quality monitoring, disease diagnosis and feed analysis.
- Rural Backyard Poultry Development: This was initiated to predict supply of backyard poultry to beneficiaries from Below Poverty Line (BPL) families so that they gain supplementary income as well as nutritional support.
- Poultry Estates: It has been specifically tailored for the educated and unemployed youth as well as small farmers. It involves enhancing entrepreneurship abilities.
The poultry venture capital fund was set up alongside dairy venture capital fund. This programme was established under NABARD and funds for elements like establishment of poultry breeding farm with low input technology birds, feed mill, feed analytical laboratory, marketing of poultry products, egg grading, logistic support, retail poultry dressing unit, egg and broiler carts for sale of poultry products, etc. The current challenges faced by meat and poultry industry are as follows-
- Poultry feed majorly consists of maize therefore it is important for it to be available at reasonable cost but current prices pose a major problem.
- Pathogenic and emerging diseases can lead to huge losses in poultry farms.
- There is a huge gap between supply and demand due to lack of marketing intelligence.
- Lack of human resources in terms of trained and skilled manpower.
- Large target population and low productivity gap poses a formidable challenge.
- Low level of processing and value addition in animal products.
But it is not impossible to overcome these problems. Some measures that can help overcome these issues are listed as follows-
- Increase in quality and quantity of maize at reasonable prices.
- Real-time monitoring of diseases or outbreak and rapid diagnosis and control.
- Development of networks, database and marketing intelligence of national and global poultry scenario.
- Availability of adequately trained manpower.
- Increase in scientific advances as demand for high quality scientifically produced meat and eggs are increasing.
- Offal from slaughterhouses can be used to make Meat-Bone Meals, pet foods, methane, etc. and be commercialised.
- Pig rearing requires a boost to increase productivity and growth rate of piglets.
When it comes to fisheries and aquaculture, India once again shines as one of the dominators of the industry being the third largest producer of fish and the second largest producer of inland species of fish. Inland fishery has been pushed by the government through the various aquaculture policies.
The current estimates have fisheries contribute to 4.6% of the total agricultural share of the GDP. This indicates that fisheries and aquatic industry has seen tremendous growth and has provided employment to more and more people of the past two decades.
Marine fishery has been able to increase contribution of the coast population to the Indian economy significantly. The government has identified this contribution and have promoted the activity by providing benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Vikas Yojna as well as National Mission for Protein Supplementation.
In terms of natural fishing, India has about 195,210 kilometres of river and canal courses and almost 2.9 million hectares of water bodies like ponds and natural lakes. Additionally, 800,000 hectares is available as flood plain wetlands with abundant source of aquatic life. On the marine front, India has adopted 200 nautical miles of exclusive economic zone which covers about 2 million square kilometres of the Indian Ocean.
This when added with the 14,000 square kilometres of brackish water, which is utilised for aquaculture of saltwater species, gives India enough natural resources of marine life. The government as well as the people involved in this sector have identified the potential of these resources due to which as per a Tamil Nadu Agricultural University report- from 1990 to 2007 the rate of fish production was even higher than milk, eggs and other food products.
Yet, this sector faces some challenges which have retarded its growth. These problems are listed as follows-
- Unavailability and limited availability of good quality and healthy fish seeds.
- Lack of tailor-made fishing vessels and other crucial resources.
- Lack of awareness about the dietary and economic benefits of fish.
- Understaffed extension employment in fisheries and poor skill training for fishers.
- No rules for standardisation and branding of fish and fish products.
To prevent these problems, there do exist a few ways as listed below-
- Policies for a connective approach to empower inland fish production and productivity with two-way linkages initiating from production chain and input requirements to establishment of infrastructure.
- Reforming the existing Fish Farmers Development Authority and involving cooperative sectors, Self-Help Groups and the youth in fishing activities.
- Larger goals in terms of culture-based artificial fisheries should be taken up.
- Sustainable development through judicious utilisation of marine fishery resources and enhancing marine fish production through sea farming, mariculture and resource replenishment programmes.
To summarise, animal rearing has been an age old practice in India. Today, India is ranked amongst the highest producers of various animals and animal products as it emerges as a trillion dollar economy. The main aspects of animal rearing include production of dairy products, livestock, meat, eggs and fisheries along with other important by products.
India is a land of natural resources and man is trying his best to utilise these resources. Animal rearing is one such privilege that we humans developed. Every year, this sector grants millions of jobs and helps eradicate poverty. Also, owning to the rapid urbanisation and constant change in diet and food preferences, more and more products are being formed to keep up with the demand.
India’s policies on animal rearing has helped scientists incorporate sophisticated technology which can be utilised to improve the yield and quantity of the animal product in question. Although lot of issues are still pulling the industry down, the sector still has enough potential to rise above these problems with fair contribution from the government, people as well as the consumers who buy the products. This way, India will surely become number one, at least in the animal rearing sector on global indices.