India retains leadership in dairy farming, FY17 milk production at 163.7 million tonnes

India has maintained its leadership among milk-producing nations producing 163.7 million tonnes of milk worth over Rs4,00,000 crore in 2016-17, union minister of agriculture and farmers welfare Radha Mohan Singh said while announcing allocation of Rs67 crore to Bihar under Rashtriya Gokul Mission.

Speaking at the Pashu Arogya Mela in Semwapur, Motihari in Bihar, the minister said dairy farming has been a traditional source of livelihood and it has a deep connection with the agricultural economy in the country.

At present, there are 190 million cattle in the country, which amounts to 14 per cent of the total cattle population of the world. Out of these, 151 million or 80 per cent of the total cattle population, are indigenous cattle. The country's dairy cooperatives provide an average of 75 to 80 per cent of its sales to the farmers.

The minister said India has 300 million bovines, which is 18 per cent of the total bovine population of the world. The country's indigenous bovine breeds have resulted from traditional and scientific knowledge and hardwork of hundreds of years. ''Today, we have 40 breeds of cattle along with Yak and Mithun and 13 breeds of buffaloes,'' he said.

Singh said that indigenous animals are more suitable for the country, particularly suitable for climate and environment of their reproductive areas. Mainly so because indigenous breeds are least affected due to climate change.

Bachaur is the indigenous cattle breed of Bihar. There are 6.73 lakh Bachaur cattle in the region, out of which 2.99 lakh are productive animals. He said that there is a huge possibility of increasing productivity of indigenous breeds through commercial farm management and balanced nutrition.

For the first time, the government has initiated Rashtriya Gokul Mission with an objective to conserve and propagate indigenous breeds in an organised and scientific manner. Till now Rs1,077 crore has been sanctioned for the proposals received from 27 states under the scheme. And so far, Rs499.08 crore has been released under this scheme.

Singh said Rs67 crore has been allocated to Bihar under Rashtriya Gokul Mission.  And so far, Rs22.5 crore has been sanctioned for the implementation of this scheme. This scheme will help in increasing milk production and milk productivity in the region. Under this programme, 1250 MAITRI centres are being set up to facilitate artificial insemination for cattle on the doorstep. This will also give a new direction to the conservation of the indigenous breeds.

Along with other components, setting up of Gokul Gram is also included under Rashtriya Gokul Mission. One Gokul Gram will have 500 animals with high genetic quality, out of which 300 will be productive animals. The Gokul Grams will rear Lal Sindhi, Sahiwal and Gir breeds along with Bachaur.

He said in 2015-16 total milk production in Bihar was 8.29 million metric tonnes, which was 5.33 per cent of the country's total milk production.

However, since Bihar has 6.67 per cent of the country's total cattle population, Singh said, there was a need to increase milk production and productivity in the state. He said agencies like Comfed/Sudha are playing important roles in collection, processing, and marketing of milk in Bihar.

In Bihar, Comfed/Sudha are providing an appropriate value of the milk to the farmers through cooperative agencies. In comparison to 15 million men, 75 million women are engaged in this field, he said.