Animal husbandry is an integral part of Indian agriculture supporting the livelihood of more than two-thirds of the rural population engaged in agriculture and landless population. Livestock sector includes poultry, dairy and fisheries & aquaculture as major sub-sectors and plays an important role in the national economy and in the socio-economic development of the country.
Agricultural sector engages about 57% of the total working population and about 73% of the rural labour force. Livestock employed 8.8% of the agricultural workforce but it varies widely from 3% in North-Eastern states to 40-48% in Punjab and Haryana. Livestock has been an important source of livelihood for small farmers and its contribution to their income is around 16% while more in states like Gujarat (24.4%), Haryana (24.2%), Punjab (20.2%) and Bihar (18.7%).
Animal husbandry also promotes gender equity. According to industry estimates, more than three-fourths of the labour demand in livestock production is met by women. The share of women employment in livestock sector is around 90% in Punjab and Haryana where dairying is a prominent activity and animals are stall-fed.
The animal husbandry sector contributes more than a fourth of the Agricultural GDP of the country. Despite the uncertainty in growth in agriculture, which is predominantly dependent on rainfall, the share of livestock in the GVA (Gross Value Added) in agriculture actually rose from 22% in 2012-13 to 25.8% in 2015-16. There would be several multi-dimensional positive impacts of growing the share to 40% over the next 4 – 5 years in terms of overall economic growth, poverty reduction, improving food and nutritional security and also mitigating malnutrition by enhancing the affordability of protein to the consumers. Livestock industry is one of the most impactful means in doubling the farmers’ incomes.
Poultry is one of the fastest growing segments of the livestock sector in India today with a CAGR of 8 to 10 per cent per annum since last decade. As per the estimates of the Ministry of Agriculture, Govt. of India, the total poultry industry is valued at about Rs. 350 billion. Per capita consumption per year is a little over 4 kg of chicken meat. India is now the world’s third-largest egg producer with 74 billion eggs produced annually. Factors that influence this growth are the low cost of production and the rise in domestic consumption. The leading egg-producing states in India are Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Haryana, and Punjab. Also, India is currently the second largest producer of broiler meat at about 5 million tonnes of meat produced annually. Indian poultry meat products are exported to Middle East, Japan, and a few South East Asian countries.
India ranks first with the largest bovine population in the world and also in milk production globally. About 70% of the milk is produced by animals reared by small, marginal farmers and landless labourers. Milk production in India increased from 17 million tonnes in 1950-51 to over 164 million tonnes in 2017. The overall growth of the dairy industry in India is around 4%, which is almost 3 times the average growth rate of the dairy industry in the world. This has not only placed the country on top in the world but also represents sustained growth in the availability of milk and milk products for the growing population of the country. Concentrated dairy products such as skimmed milk continue to be the largest item of exports from India. However, the productivity of Indian milch animal is 987 kg a year against the world average of 2200 kg. Per capita availability of milk in the country which was 130 gram per day during 1950- 51 has increased to 351 gram per day in 2016-17.
There is a lack of elite knowledge amongst the farmers for better dairying practices. India will require around 300000 trained dairy workers in different cadres by 2020. Artificial Insemination, balanced rationing, farm management, clean milk production, silage production, control of mastitis and other diseases, use of IT at the farm level, managing milking and chilling and other activities effectively and efficiently are needs of the hour. There is a huge gap in demand-supply of green fodder, dry fodder and also high-quality mineral mixture and concentrated feeds for animals in order to ensure health and productivity.
India has an about 8041 km of coastline, and about 5.70 million ha of freshwater area suitable for fisheries production. Fishing, aquaculture and allied activities are reported to have provided livelihood to over 15 million. This sector has great potential to export their fish and fish product also. Since 1991, the overall export of fish is raised at a considerable rate. The overall export of shrimp during 2017-18 stood at 5, 65,980 tonnes. The export of Vannamei shrimp grew 22.02% to 4, 02,374 tonnes in 2017-18. Japan was the major market for black tiger shrimps. Frozen fish, the second largest export item, contributed 25.64% in quantity and 10.35% in earnings.
With rapid urbanization, higher income levels and changes in lifestyle, demand for scientifically produced and hygienically packed meat and meat products are expanding rapidly. Today, the increasing demand of the meat and meat products for in the domestic and foreign market, particularly to the Gulf and West Asia and neighbouring countries. There is a huge scope for expanding exports, especially in Buffalo and poultry meat, eggs and dairy products. In meat and meat processing sector, poultry meat is the fastest growing animal protein in India.
Driven by the structural changes in agriculture and food consumption patterns in recent years, the utility of livestock is going through a steady transformation. The non-food functions of livestock are becoming optional and valuation of livestock for food is going up. Use of dung manure is increasingly being replaced by chemical fertilizers. On the other hand, their importance as a source of quality food has increased. Livestock Sector not only provides essential protein and nutritious human diet through milk, eggs, meat etc. Livestock products are becoming popular because of improved per capita income and faster economic growth, a fast-growing urban population, burgeoning middle-income class, changing lifestyles, increasing proportion of women in the workforce, improvements in logistics, packaging, transportation and storage practices and the rise of supermarkets, especially in cities and towns. Thus, growth in the livestock sector is demand-driven, inclusive and pro-poor.
[This is an authored article by Raghavan Sampathkumar, Executive Director of Compound Livestock Feed Manufacturers Association. All views, opinions and expressions are personal and limited to the author.]