In a speech delivered to an industry gathering, Pawar urged: “Scientifically launched initiatives are required to be undertaken to improve milk productivity and to reduce costs by adopting improved management practices and effective disease control.”
This year, milk has reached a level of output that has overtaken India’s rice and wheat production, but this will mean nothing if milk farmers are unable to improve their businesses by achieving higher returns, warned Pawar. It is up to the private sector to take the lead by investing in revitalising the country’s decaying cold chain infrastructure.
Tough task ahead
According to National Dairy Development Board chairman, Amrita Patel, it will be possible to develop growth in the dairy industry in a sustainable and achievable way, although this will not be an easy task.
To achieve this, producers must improve productivity, and should look at ways including scientific breeding, balancing rations for milch animals and adopting improved standard operating practices across each segment of the industry.
At the same time, farmers must take into account that India does not have access to the significant subsidies that Western countries enjoy, although this could be offset by the abundance of cheap labour in the country, she said.
“Hence the model of development for India needs to focus on generating incomes for the larger population of small farmers,” said Patel.
During the course of its current five-year plan, the government has adopted some positive measures for the dairy industry, including the restructuring of bureaucratic schemes to allow states more flexibility to implement them. Meanwhile, the National Dairy Plan has placed greater focus on scientific breeding an feeding practices.
GC Pati, of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries’ department of animal husbandry, has said that government is focused on strengthening the dairy industry’s IT competence, as well as skills development among dairy farmers, although India continues to lack the availability of quality feed and fodder that is needed to improve productivity.
“There is a high dependence on agri by-products and crop residue given the scarcity of green fodder due to land constraints,” he said, adding that the private sector is now playing an increased role as organised dairy companies continue to increase their share of the industry from their current 30% to an estimated 70% by the end of the 12th five-year plan.
To this end, they must ramp up investment and work more closely with farmers and co-operatives and producers organisations to make the industry more inclusive, said Pati.