Animal husbandry is the practise of producing animals and selective breeding. It is the administration and care of animals in which animal genetic traits and behaviour are further enhanced for profit. A huge number of farmers rely on animal husbandry for a living. It provides a living for over 55 percent of the rural population. According to the Economic Survey-2021, livestock’s contribution to overall agricultural and allied sector Gross Value Added (at Constant Prices) has grown from 24.32 percent in 2014-15 to 28.63 percent in 2021. (2018-19).
- It has considerably aided women’s empowerment by increasing their income and position in society.
- It is a significant risk-mitigation strategy for small and marginal farmers, notably in India’s rain-fed areas.
- It is fundamental to poverty reduction strategies in terms of equality and livelihood.
- The Inter-Ministerial Committee has highlighted livestock productivity as one of seven drivers of income development within the government’s objective of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.
Role of livestock in farmers’ economy
The livestock plays an important role in the economy of farmers. The farmers in India maintain mixed farming system i.e. a combination of crop and livestock where the output of one enterprise becomes the input of another enterprise thereby realize the resource efficiency. The livestock serve the farmers in different ways.
- Income: Livestock is a source of subsidiary income for many families in India especially the resource poor who maintain few heads of animals. Cows and buffaloes if in milk will provide regular income to the livestock farmers through sale of milk. Animals like sheep and goat serve as sources of income during emergencies to meet exigencies like marriages, treatment of sick persons, children education, repair of houses etc. The animals also serve as moving banks and assets which provide economic security to the owners.
- Employment: A large number of people in India being less literate and unskilled depend upon agriculture for their livelihoods. But agriculture being seasonal in nature could provide employment for a maximum of 180 days in a year. The landless and less land people depend upon livestock for utilizing their labour during lean agricultural season.
- Food: The livestock products such as milk, meat and eggs are an important source of animal protein to the members of the livestock owners. The per capita availability of milk is around 375 g / day; eggs is 74 / annum during 2017-18.
- Social security: The animals offer social security to the owners in terms of their status in the society. The families especially the landless which own animals are better placed than those who do not. Gifting of animals during marriages is a very common phenomenon in different parts of the country. Rearing of animals is a part of the Indian culture. Animals are used for various socio religious functions. Cows for house warming ceremonies; rams, bucks and chicken for sacrifice during festive seasons; Bulls and Cows are worshipped during various religious functions. Many owners develop attachment to their animals.
- Draft : The bullocks are the back bone of Indian agriculture. The farmers especially the marginal and small depend upon bullocks for ploughing, carting and transport of both inputs and outputs.
- Dung: In rural areas dung is used for several purposes which include fuel (dung cakes), fertilizer (farm yard manure), and plastering material (poor man’s cement).
- Superior grade breeding bulls are not available.
- Many laboratories generate sperm of poor quality.
- Livestock farmers face greater challenges in comparison to traditional agricultural farmers especially while accessing credit and livestock insurance.
- Zoonotic illnesses-With a sharp increase in zoonotic disease cases, proper diagnosis and treatment facilities for veterinary diseases are critical.
- Antimicrobial resistance-Quacks or untrained animal health personnel fill the void left by the lack of sufficient facilities. This results in ineffective therapy and antibiotic dosing, which can contribute to antibiotic resistance. This poses a risk to human health. The MVU approach will help to reduce antimicrobial resistance and is in line with WHO’s Global Action Plan’s “One Health vision.”
- Animal illness management is inadequate due to a lack of feed resources.
- There is no field-based conservation plan for indigenous breeds.
- Inadequate infrastructure to support the sector, as well as a lack of expertise and quality services for farmers to improve production.
- Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF): This is the government’s first significant fund, and it encompasses a wide range of stakeholders such as Farmer Producer Organizations (FPO), private dairy companies, individual entrepreneurs, and non-profits.
- National Livestock Mission: Established in 2014-15. Ensure quantitative and qualitative improvements in animal production systems, as well as capacity building for all stakeholders.
- National Artificial Insemination Program: To propose innovative techniques of inducing impregnation in female breeds. To limit the transmission of some illnesses that are genital in nature, hence increasing the breed’s efficiency.
- National Animal Disease Control Programme: It has been initiated for Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Brucellosis with a total investment of Rs.13,343 crore to guarantee 100% immunisation of the cow, buffalo, sheep, goat, and pig population.
- Rashtriya Gokul Mission: To create and protect indigenous bovine breeds. To increase milk output and make it more profitable for producers.
If investments are made in a timely manner, even as the country strives to recover from the pandemic-induced economic downturn, pressure on the agriculture sector will be alleviated, with enormous advantages for the overall economy. The Animal Husbandry industry has macro-benefits in terms of climate change and employment, and improved infrastructure may make processing units more energy-efficient and assist reduce their carbon footprint.
How to structure
- Give an intro about livestock farming in India
- Explain the issues faced by livestock farmers in India
- Suggest measures and link schemes