After pumping billions of rupees in the Agriculture sector, the realisation finally dawns upon the Government that if India has to enter the 5 trillion dollar economy club then it has to look to its core sectors for the momentum. One of the core sectors which could propel the Economy to the 5 trillion dollar goal is the Animal Husbandry Sector.
It may look harsh upon the Agriculture sector when we say that Animal Husbandry has equal if not more value than the Agriculture. If we take a stroll back into the history of our nation we may be surprised to find that we were not an Agricultural nation in terms of the contribution made by it in the GDP. Of course, there was not such a term as GDP back then but to understand the concept in the present context it is necessary for us to talk about the wealth of a nation ( in those times princely states) in terms of GDP. We were a nation of Artisans and Animal rearers. Agriculture was also blooming in the fertile plains of our great rivers. We were doing Agriculture as per our needs but the main items of export remain exquisite craftwork, precious gems, metals, and exotic spices. Animal Husbandry was part of our Agricultural practices and was sufficient to meet the local demands.
The entering of East India Company and subsequent slavery of over 200 years had led to the systematic erosion of our rich culture and heritage and our own greatly revered artisans were reduced to Agriculturists. Forced Agriculture was imposed upon us where we were made to sow and produce whatever the desire of the imperial think tank and over the period and over the generations we assumed ourselves as Farmers and Farmers only and lost the ability of creators and thinkers. Sad!!!
Agriculture still as of today is largely weather governed system and has the potential for huge fluctuations in production and demand depending upon the external factors. After independence, we stuck to the colonial mindset and called ourselves an Agriculture based developing nation. Emotions can run dangerously high if someone says Agriculture is not a profitable business. Policies are made and we have a Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers welfare to look after the affairs. Elections are fought on the emotional rhetoric of Farmer’s condition and Farmer’s suicide graphs. Somewhere the policies were so blinded by the rhetoric’s that they failed to see the obvious. We have never realised the potential of Animal Husbandry as the main income generator for the Farmers and to the Nation.
Modi government since its inception in 2014 has realised the fact but it took Modi 2.0 of 2019 to finally break the shackles and declare the Animal Husbandry sector as an equivalent of the Agriculture sector in propelling the Indian Economy. A separate Ministry for Fishery, Animal Husbandry and Dairying announced this year is the testimony to that.
This year Government has launched three schemes which have the potential to turn around the growth story of millions of livestock farmers in India. It is estimated that in the next five years, livestock farmers will not only save losses worth Rs 2.50 lakh crore but will increase their income four times, which could provide a major boost to the Indian Economy. The forecasted growth in the Animal Husbandry sector is projected at 6% whereas the growth in the Agriculture sector is pegged at 3% which again highlights the importance of the Animal Husbandry sector.
The government has started a massive program for the eradication of the FMD prevailing among the Indian Livestock. An outlay of over 13000 crore rupees is made for the scheme which aims to target 500 million Livestock including cattle, buffalo, sheep, Goat, and Pigs would be vaccinated against FMD. A large force of volunteers will undertake the world’s biggest-ever vaccination drive by injecting 1,056 million doses every year. The program is for a period of 5 years and would continue till 2024. The program also aims at vaccinating 36 million Female Bovine calves annually in the fight against Brucellosis. Both Brucellosis and FMD have a direct negative impact on the trade of Milk and other Livestock products in the external markets which are mostly off-limits due to restrictions imposed.
Prevailing diseases in farm animals, poor nutrition value (of fodder provided to them) and low quality of breeding are the main reasons behind sluggish growth of the Animal Husbandry which has the potential to achieve a commendable 12 to 15% growth. Improved breeds on an average have the potential yield of 10000kg milk production per year. To achieve that PM Modi launched the National Artificial Insemination Program with the aim to cover all the 687 districts of the country. The inseminated cows using semen of genetically superior bulls can also ensure increased milk production and better fertility. The government is collaborating with companies of the US for the cutting edge technology of sex-sorted semen under Rashtriya Gokul Mission.
With the Central Budget on the corner and the positive outlook of the Government on the Animal Husbandry sector, it remains to be seen the budget outlay for this rapidly growing sector. The next challenge for the Government would be to create an infrastructure and healthy environment for the growth of the Animal Husbandry sector to achieve attest 12% growth target in the near future and a step forward toward a 5 trillion dollar economy.