Livestock farming is an economic activity that entails management and raising of domestic animals for human consumption in order to obtain products like meat, milk, wool, fur, and honey.
One of the first economic endeavors undertaken by early men was livestock rearing. It provides food security, access to hides, skins, bones, milk, and other animal products without requiring hunters to enter the forest.
Cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, chickens, rabbits, snails, fish, and honeybees are all examples of animals that are bred as part of livestock farming.
The farmers in India practice mixed farming, which combines crops and livestock and maximizes resource efficiency by using one enterprise’s result as another’s input.
Livestock farming: India’s potential
- Animals provide a living for about 20.5 million people. Two-thirds of rural communities depend on livestock for their livelihood.
- The livestock industry makes up 25.6% of all agricultural GDP and contributes 4.11% of overall GDP.
- India is the largest producer of milk, producing up to 23% of the global milk each year, according to the department of animal husbandry and dairying.
- India is world’s highest livestock owner at about 535.78 million. The population of cattle and buffalo is highest in India about 109.85 million buffalos and 148.88 million goats.
- India is the biggest producer of buffalo meat and the biggest exporter of sheep and goat meat. India is the world’s second-largest exporter of poultry products.
- Fifth largest in the population of chicken and ducks around 851.51 million. And, in terms of egg production, India comes in third place worldwide.
- Animals raised for human consumption produce foods like milk, meat, and eggs. The most sought-after milk producer in the world is India.
- In a single year (2021–22), it produces roughly 22.7 million tonnes of milk. In addition, it generates 9.29 million tonnes of meat and 129 billion eggs annually.
- In 2021-22, production from the livestock industry 11% of the total GDP of India and 25.6% of Agricultural Sector.
- Wool, hair, hides, and pellets are all components of fibre and hides (skins) made from livestock.
- Leather is the most major product with a significant export potential and is used for a variety of uses both domestically and internationally.
- Since 2017–18, around 41.5 million kg of wool have been produced in India.
- Use in agriculture:
- The bull is referred to as the foundation of Indian agriculture. Bullock carts are still used by Indian farmers and they significantly reduce the amount of gasoline needed to power mechanical devices like tractors, combine harvesters, etc.
- Aside from the bull, other animals like as camels, horses, donkeys, mules, etc., are frequently used to deliver commodities to various parts of the nation.
- Ponies and mules are the only means of transportation for goods in mountainous places.
- Likewise, the military must rely on these animals to transport a variety of supplies in high-altitude places.
- Sports and entertainment:
- Bull races (jali kattu) are highly popular throughout the holiday season despite the prohibition on these animal contests, which include cock fights, ram fights, and bull fights.
Livestock farming: Role of women
- In rural households, even till date it has been noted that women are almost always involved in animal care. Women make up an average of 43% of the agricultural labour force, including livestock farming.
- With a contribution of 23% to global milk production, India is the world’s largest producer of milk. This is due to the vast amounts of cattle that are mostly cared for by women.
- The Indian Prime Minister mentioned that women make up 70% of the workforce in India’s dairy sector while kicking off the International Dairy Federation World Dairy Summit 2022.
- In addition, in India, women make up more than a third of dairy cooperative members. The worth of the Indian dairy industry, he continued, exceeds that of rice and wheat put together. He continued, “All of this is driven by Indian women.”
- In dairy producer cooperatives in 2020–21, women made up 31% of total members. There are over 190,000 dairy cooperative societies in India.
- Poor Productivity:
- India has the biggest livestock population and the highest milk production in the world, but the productivity of ruminants in particular has been dreadfully low, turning this priceless resource of the underprivileged into a liability.
- Large ruminants are kept by more than 60% of rural households, primarily for milk production and sporadically for bullock power. The average milk yield, however, is noticeably low.
- Livestock Diseases:
- The biggest danger to the health of livestock is infectious disease. They are brought on by fungus, rickettsia, viruses, and bacteria.
- Frequent outbreaks of illnesses like influenza, lumpy skin, black quarter infection, and food and mouth disease continue to have a negative impact on the health and productivity of livestock. The diseases in livestock also poses major economic burden on the farmers.
- Feed and fodder scarcity:
- With only 2.29 percent of the world’s surface area devoted to agriculture, India is home to nearly 17 percent of the world’s population as well as 10.70 percent of the world’s livestock—more than 535.82 million head—putting tremendous strain on the country’s limited supply of land, water, and other resources.
- Just 5% of the country’s arable land is being used for the production of feed. Only 3.30 percent of the entire area is covered by permanent pastures and grazing areas, and this percentage has been progressively decreasing.
- Marketing of cattle and livestock products:
- To hasten the commercialization of livestock production, market access is essential.
- Farmers may be discouraged from implementing more advanced technology and high-quality inputs due to a lack of market access.
- Lack of Technology & infrastructure:
- Small, marginal farmers and landless people who cannot afford to possess large livestock typically maintain smaller livestock such as sheep and goats.
- However, the majority of these livestock, which rely solely on free grazing and need no additional food or medical attention, do not significantly increase household income.
- The current system of unsustainable husbandry practices shows the condition of these animals that lack the infrastructure and technology needed for production and storage. This ultimately causes loss to the economy.
Livestock farming: Government initiatives
- RASTRIYA GOKUL MISSION (RGM): It was established in December 2014 with a budget of Rs 2025 crore for the purpose of improving the genetics of the nondescript bovine population and developing and conserving indigenous breeds through selective breeding in the breeding tract.
- NATIONAL LIVESTOCK MISSION (NLM): The program’s emphasis is on entrepreneurial development as well as breed improvement for pigs, sheep, goats, and poultry, including the production of feed and fodder. The three Sub-Missions listed below are used to carry out the scheme:
- Livestock and poultry breed development sub-mission
- Development of Feed and Fodder Sub-Mission
- Sub-Mission on Innovation and Extension
- NATIONAL PROGRAMME FOR DAIRY DEVELOPMENT (NPDD):
- It was introduced in February 2014 by combining three previously implemented programmes, Intensive Dairy Development Programme, Strengthening Infrastructure for Quality & Clean Milk Production, and Assistance to Cooperatives.
- The goal of this initiative was to improve the infrastructure for producing high-quality milk as well as for buying, processing, and selling milk and milk products.
- NATIONAL ANIMAL DISEASE CONTROL PROGRAMME (NADCP):
- Animal disease prevention and control assistance is offered with this government initiative, including for Foot and Mouth Disease and other diseases.
- The development of diagnostic tests for the infectious bursal disease vaccine and the sub-viral particle-based Japanese encephalitis and bluetongue diseases was done to safeguard livestock.
- FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT FUND (FIDF):
- For the development of specific fisheries infrastructure facilities, the Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF) offers concessional financing or loans to Eligible businesses (EEs), including State Governments/UTs and State businesses.
- An autonomous Department of Fisheries was established in 2019 in recognition of the significance of the industry.