Livestock – Living up the ExpectationsJune 2015

India has the distinction of hosting the largest livestock population in the world. For the last few decades, both the crop and livestock sectors have been growing satisfactorily, however, the latter has grown faster and impressively

Farmers are shifting to high yielding, cross bred cattle and this is being reflected in milk production. Milk, a critical livestock product, has good growth potential in India. A good source of protein for a large section of vegetarian community in India, milk continues to register good production numbers. Indian dairy industry continues to be dominated by small players, who supply milk to cooperative dairies and government agencies. While in rural areas, the small suppliers sell milk to individuals, in cities public sector firms and cooperatives provide milk to citizens. The unorganised sector accounts for 80 per cent of the dairy industry. The value-added segment in the dairy sector is growing at about 25 per cent annually and is expected to expand at a brisk pace over the next five years. The positive outlook for dairy industry has prompted many private players to invest in India’s dairy sector. They have invested $138.85 million (Rs. 862 crore) in the sector with 15 deals since 2010. These funds are being used by local private companies to expand and modernise the supply chain and distribution network.

Despite having a vibrant dairy industry and the world’s largest livestock population, India’s meat business is unappreciated and underutilized. Beef was big business in India, despite the fact that many Indian states banned the slaughter of cows outright.

Chicken is the most widely accepted meat in India. Unlike beef or pork, it does not have a religious taboo. The prices of chicken meat are lower than those of mutton or goat meat. Many Indian families, especially the educated people in urban areas , have begun to accept eggs as a regular supplemental part of their vegetarian diet.In the last two to three decades , poultry has made tremendous strides particularly in the private sector, with the result that India is now self-sufficient with regard to requirements of high quality breeding stocks, modern poultry equipment, availability of medicines and vaccines and technically qualified skilled manpower.

Livestock and poultry in India have opened up new avenues and increasingly registered good production and income prospects. The domestic market too has woken up to this change and these industries have a loyal customer base in India as well.The consumption of livestock products has increased in the country over the years. India is seeing a new trend of increased animal proteins in diet. A mix of consumerism, better income, health consciousness, omnipresent retail chains, access to meat and dairy products in various formats have made this transformation possible.

Whilst livestock and poultry sectors are registering impressive growth, there are a host of issues plaguing the productivity and efficacy of the sectors. Currently, low productivity per animal hinders development of the dairy sector. The low productivity is a result of ineffective cattle and buffalo breeding programmes, limited extension and management on dairy enterprise development, traditional feeding practices that are not based on scientific feeding methods, and limited availability and affordability of quality feed and fodder. We need to address these issues to carry forward themomentum of growth in these sectors.

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