In order to boost dairy exports, India is set to begin the largest cattle vaccination drive to immunize livestock against the foot & mouth disease – a widely prevalent disease that cripples milk production.
Even though India is the largest milk producer in the world, its exportable surplus and milk output per animal is low as compared to global leaders, like the US and New Zealand.
To recall, PM Narendra Modi had announced the launch of the scheme during his visit to Mathura earlier this month. As per the scheme, the Centre will spend nearly Rs 13,000 crore on the immunization plan for the next 5 years. The proposal was cleared during the 1st Cabinet of the current government held in May. For the year 2019-20, Centre has budgeted Rs 500 crore, an official said on condition of anonymity.
An inter-ministerial committee that has prepared a rural-sector turnaround plan to be presented to PM Modi, has set targets, recommending phases to cover the entire livestock population, ramping up vaccine production & expanding dairy exports.
The official said, “We may be the highest milk producing country but productivity is low and it’s mainly because of foot & mouth disease. The amount of meat or processed items from cattle is also limited by our disease burden”.
Centre has targeted to cover 300 million unvaccinated bovines, 200 million sheep & 10 million pigs in the first phase of vaccination. As part of the programme, around 36 million female bovine calves will also be vaccinated to defend them against the brucellosis disease.
The chairman of Hatsun Agro Product Limited, RG Chandramogan said, “Our milk surplus is low that is about 0.6 percent of total production. New Zealand’s marketable surplus is almost 95 percent, with domestic milk consumption of 5 percent”.
A review meeting has proposed ramping up vaccine production by at least 400 million doses. Currently, India produces around 480 million dozes.
In addition to this, a National Artificial Insemination Programme is also being undertaken on the orders of the PMO to rear high productivity milch animals, part of Centre’s effort to double farm income.
Recently the PMO had tweeted that workshops will be organized in 687 districts of India to raise awareness on vaccination & disease-free livestock industry.
India, the world’s largest producer, has seen a spurt in milk production but much of it goes into domestic use. In the last 4 years, milk production has grown by over 6 percent every year. Output was 165.4 million tonne in 2016-17 and in 2017-18 it was estimated to be 176.35 million tonne.
However, milk farms are generally small and most of producers own 2-3 cows that affect the productivity levels. The IFCN Dairy Research Network said, on average, dairy farmers in India produce 1,248 kg of milk per cow yearly. On the other hand, US dairy farms produce nearly 8 times more per animal.