Dairy development in India is synonymous with eradicating rural poverty, building rural economy, providing food and nutritional security, contributing to national growth and much more. How important the sector is to India’s development and growth is presented in many articles as well as various statistics covered in this compendium—Dairy India (Edition Seven). If anything, the major challenge to the development and growth of dairy sector is the extreme shortage of educated, trained and above all skilled manpower. There is need for building the dairy sector on a strong knowledge base. A strong knowledge economy will fast track the dairy economy automatically. There is need to build up skills at many tiers through a well-knit network of education, research, training and skill development.

 The modernisation of dairy industry and dairy economy during the twenty-first century would need specialised set of new competencies, which include Information & Communication Technology (ICT) skills, soft skills for problem solving, analytical skills, group learning, working in a team-based environment, and effective communication. These skills are important at levels including the senior management, floor staff and field workers. Fostering such skills requires an education system that is flexible. Basic education should provide the foundation for learning, and secondary and tertiary education should develop core skills that encourage creative and critical thinking. In addition, it is necessary to develop an effective lifelong learning system to provide continuing education and skill upgrading to persons after they have left formal education in order to provide the changing skills necessary to be competitive in the new global economy.

A strong basic education system is necessary to speed up the productivity and efficiency of the economy. Education and skill development must go hand in hand at the middle, secondary and higher secondary level of education to improve the productivity and quality of labour as well as deliver the manpower needed for development and growth of the economy.

India has more than 104 million children out of school, the largest segment being girls in the 6 to 14 year-old age group. The hope lies in the fact that the Government is committed to increasing education through Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan or Education for All, initiated in 2001 and by having amended the constitution in 2002 to make elementary education a fundamental right of every child. But to create a sustained cadre of “knowledge workers”, India will need to develop a more relevant educational system and reorient classroom teaching and learning objectives, starting from primary school.

The new system would focus on learning, rather than on schooling, and promote creativity. The dairy sector requires a large number of skilled persons and imparting vocational training in basic skills of hygiene, sanitation, environmental cleanliness, testing and handling of milk and simple chemicals during this formative period would be a great support.


Tertiary Education

Tertiary education is critical for the construction of knowledge economies. India currently produces a solid core of knowledge workers in tertiary, scientific and technical education, although the country needs to do more to create a larger cadre of educated and agile workers who can adapt and use knowledge. Efforts have been put into establishing a top-quality university system that includes many world-class institutions of higher learning that are competitive and meritocratic.

India has a small fraction of the population that is highly educated and vocationally qualified. It is these people who are making their mark, domestically and globally, in science, engineering, IT, and research and development (R&D). With just twice this size of educated and vocationally trained people, India can overtake all economies and reach the top slot.

In 2014, there were 19 dairy science colleges in India with intake of about 750 students for graduating in various streams of dairy education. In addition, these colleges undertake many short-term courses of duration from one to two years. Some of the national open universities like the Indira Gandhi National Open University now offer long distance courses leading to graduation and post-graduation in various disciplines of dairy and allied sciences.

It is estimated that the demand for dairy and allied industries is far higher than the graduates being churned out now. According to the National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM), Hyderabad and Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi, the demand of graduates in dairy science and technology was 17,807 as of 2010—far too short than the students admitted during 2014. This demand is projected to grow to 29,920 by 2020 with an increase of 1,200 graduates every year.

In addition there is a very large demand of diploma and certificate holders as well as skilled personnel to manage the growing quantity of milk being procured in the organised sector. According to my assessment, for procurement of 100,000 litres milk per day, a variety of skills are required to manage the entire network. Firstly, to manage 500 village level collection centres (VLCC) each procuring an average of 200 litres of milk daily, there would be need for 500 trained village service providers. This milk would be chilled in some 3-4 chilling centres of 10,000 to 20,000 litres daily, where there would be a need for 15-20 diploma or certificate holders. Further, there would be need for at least 50-75 trained drivers and attendants to transport milk to the chilling centres and another 8-10 drivers and attendants to transport chilled milk to the dairy plant. In effect, procurement of 100,000 litres of milk would generate more than 600 jobs in rural areas. This does not include the trained staff needed to manage associated facilities like distribution of balanced cattle feed, primary veterinary services, artificial insemination and farmers’ awareness and educational campaigns.

There are 53 veterinary colleges offering undergraduate veterinary education in India, with some of them offering post-graduate education. According to the Veterinary Council of India, the current status of manpower in veterinary institutions is far from adequate in the context of offering number of graduates and quality veterinary education. Most of the colleges are operating at 50 per cent of the approved staff strength. In order to support the increased need, it is essential to strengthen the faculty position in existing colleges to produce the required manpower.

The current strength of veterinary institutions is adequate to educate around 3,050 graduates and postgraduates. Over the next five years, at least 20 new veterinary colleges should be opened with a capacity of 60 students each. Twenty institutions among the existing ones should be selected as centres of excellence for post-graduate teaching and research and funded for strengthening diagnostic labs, contract faculty and infrastructure.

According to the Report of the Working Group on Animal Husbandry & Dairying (12th Five Year Plan 2012-17) submitted to the Planning Commission, Government of India, there is a large gap between the manpower required and availability in respect of animal science to meet development, academic and research needs. The current availability is 34,500 veterinarians as against the requirement of 67,000 for development work, 3,050 animal science specialists for teaching and research as against 7,500, and 52,000 para-vets and supporting staff as against 259,000. Obviously, there is shortage of trained and skilled manpower to manage the livestock sector and the existing veterinary infrastructure is too inadequate.

Similarly, the supply and demand gap in the core dairy sector is also very large. The existing supply of 600 graduates can meet with just the 30 per cent of the estimated demand. To meet with the growing demand there is need to open more institutions so as to produce by 2020 at least 2,350 undergraduates, 470 postgraduates, and 180 PhDs.

There is a strong need to upgrade the minimum standards of technical education at the national level. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) needs to initiate strong reforms in the curriculum of veterinary, animal sciences and dairy sciences and technology with strong practical training. There are very few veterinary colleges with large herds to be managed by students and just two dairy science colleges that have on-campus dairy plants. With this infrastructure, it is not possible for the colleges to produce graduates who are competent and confident of managing the facilities as they enter the practical world that has business management and public health at its core.

It is important that the outgoing graduates should be able to enter with confidence the fields of milk production & procurement, milk processing & product manufacture, milk marketing, manufacture of compound animal feeds & supplements, veterinary pharmaceuticals, semen stations, abattoirs, food safety & security and business management, etc.

Recent developments and ongoing progress in cybernetics—information technology, communications and data processing—have simplified many technical activities through the application of software and data analysis. Take for example, the complicated technique of progeny testing. A person with adequate training in use of hand held computer can record data on sires, dams and their progeny, their records of birth, reproduction, production, feeding and health status and send it to the centralised computer. The computer would in turn send SMS on mobile alerting the milk producer about the forthcoming dates of vaccination, deworming, insemination, pregnancy and time to deliver the calf. These records would create confidence in milk producer about the future capability of production and reproduction of his cows. A trained geneticist would enter the field of generating sire indices only when the data over two or three generations have been already generated. We are now in the realm of knowledge generations and the economy that would be built around the knowledge base would surely succeed and grow faster.

A dairy plant engaged in rural procurement of milk needs skills in generating data on purchase of milk from every farmer from the time he supplies milk. A transaction carried out by a farmer with the dairy plant should transfer the information on quantity, quality and value of milk through internet immediately. This helps in assessing and controlling the transit losses and stealing. This also helps in ensuring that exact payment is delivered on the prescribed date through the RTGS/NEFT system of banking. It saves large scale transfer of funds through cash or the issue of cheques. All graduating students of dairy sciences, animal sciences and veterinary sciences need to have extensive training and skills in applying software of information technology.

The Government should improve the skill and education levels of the mass of people through primary and vocational education. When technology is changing, enterprises must invest in worker training to remain competitive. India will need to develop various job training programs to be globally competitive. These programmes must be flexible, cost-effective, and able to quickly adapt to new skill demands generated by changing markets and technologies.