73% of The Indian Cattle Population is Indigenous and Non-Descript

Indigenous and non-descript cattle comprise 73 percent of the total cattle population of 19.35 crore whereas the exotic and crossbred animals constitute more than 26 percent. These findings are part of breed-wise data collected during the 20th Livestock Census 2018-19. The uniqueness of this census was that for the first time the country went with adopting tablet computers for the data collection exercise and both livestock and poultry birds were counted according to their breeds as recognized by the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR).

The report has covered 184 recognized indigenous/exotic and crossbred breeds of 19 selected species that are registered by the NBAGR. There are four exotic/crossbred breeds of cattle and 41 recognized indigenous breeds covered in this report. As per the Census, 36.04 percent of the livestock population belongs to cattle. Crossbred Jersey has the highest share with 49.3 percent against 39.3 percent of Crossbred Holstein Friesian (HF) in total exotic/crossbred cattle. Gir, Lakhimi, and Sahiwal breeds have a significant contribution to the total indigenous cattle population of 14.21 crore. In buffalo, the Murrah breed majorly contributes with 42.8 percent which is commonly found in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology ((RGCB) has launched the ‘Gau Mithra App’ on cattle diseases and their traditional cures. The app carries information regarding as many as 16 illnesses cattle are prone to, and the traditional cures for them. The ethnoveterinary app encapsulates a wide range of orally transmitted ethnic knowledge and practices relating to livestock diseases and cures, gathered from the tribal communities of Idukki and Wayanad districts. The contents are available in both Malayalam and English.

The recent crisis of dry fodder has attracted considerable national attention over the last few months. The two major reasons are – farmers opted for the mustard crops in place of wheat in northern Indian plains and the early onset of summer coupled with an exceptional rise in temperatures that caused significant loss to the tune of 4-8 quintals per acre in wheat yield. Wheat straw is widely used as animal fodder.

The prices of dry fodder are skyrocketing and, ‘gaushalas’ and dairy owners are finding it hard to arrange fodder for their farm animals. A ban by the authorities on inter-district transport of dry fodder and its sales to brick-kiln and cardboard factories has worsened the fodder shortages. Experts opined that the situation is likely to worsen in the future in the absence of rains. The recently reported deficit in green fodder is 11.24 percent while the country is experiencing a 23.4 percent shortage in dry fodder and around 29 percent in concentrates. The vision of becoming “atmanirbhar” in feed and fodder will not be materialized without the proactive role of both the Central and State governments in supporting fodder-based start-ups. The government should give a buy-back guarantee with prior agreement for the procurement of certified fodder seed and surplus fodder from the entrepreneurs. Infrastructure facilities like silage and hay balers, fodder block-making units, chaff cutters, crop harvesters, pivot irrigation equipment, etc. along with all the facilities required should be supported. The construction of more fodder banks at the block level of all fodder-stressed districts must be a policy focus.

The government must support fodder cultivation as a bankable project for those entrepreneurs who wish to take up fodder cultivation as an economic activity to obtain bank loans. Awareness needs to be generated among farmer-entrepreneurs for making value additions to the fodder to use it as a nutritious food for animals and thereby saving a large amount of fodder that goes waste every year. Moreover, the investment must be tailored to developing an insurance mechanism for mitigating the financial risks faced by fodder-based start-ups. Lastly, the government must recognize entrepreneurs as well as the institutions and organizations concerned which have done commendable work in the field of fodder development by way of merit certificates and cash incentives.

The Dutch government will set up a Dairy Trading Centre of Excellence (DTCE) in southern Uttar Pradesh. The DTCE will help dairy farmers adopt Dutch technology and improve the quality and quantity of milk. Farmers will learn about managing dairy farms, including getting insights into marketing, and will be provided training. The DTCE will also have a small-scale cheese plant. According to 2019-20 statistics, the per animal milk yield in Holland is at least five times higher at 8,900 kg per year than Indian cattle’s yield of 1,777 kg per year.