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HomeNewsRelief from milk prices likely after monsoon: Parshottam Rupala

Relief from milk prices likely after monsoon: Parshottam Rupala

In an interview, Rupala said while extreme weather conditions can damage crops, there is currently no alarming feed shortage, and in the unlikely situation of a shortage, states have reserves to fill the supply gap. To improve milk productivity, Rupala said the government is working on climate-resilient breeds that can weather extreme conditions. Edited excerpts:

When can consumers expect relief from rising milk prices?

The department of animal husbandry and dairying does not regulate the procurement and sale prices of milk in the country. Prices are decided by the cooperative and private dairies based on their cost of production and market forces.

Milk is a perishable item and difficult to store for a long period. Price fluctuation in perishable items is common. After the cooperative incorporation, we have been successful in stabilizing prices. Because of the Amul model, 75% of what consumers pay goes directly to the producers’ or growers’ pockets. We are now looking at how to help farmers to get their production costs covered.

The Wholesale Price Index of fodder is on a decreasing trend; it was 248 in January, 237 in April, and 222.70 in June due to an improvement in green fodder availability with the ensuing monsoon season. In view of this, I expect milk prices stabilizing after the monsoon season. After the monsoon season and the beginning of the winter season, we see a peak in milk production, and thus, flow gets settled.

How is the government addressing the production challenges faced by the livestock and poultry industry due to extreme weather?

As far as mitigation of climate change challenges are concerned, I have no hesitation in claiming that country is in safest hand. Extreme weather, like excess rainfall, affects cattle feed crops, but the advantage of such rainfall is expectations of better crops in the next season. Rain makes fields greener within a week, benefiting animals. It’s just a matter of 10-15 days of distress. Instead of relying on it, we have started working on developing better seeds. Now, there is new grass that is 12 feet long, and you can harvest it twice or thrice a year, and you may not need to cultivate seeds for 5-7 years. We are developing more such seeds with state governments to increase the availability of green fodder.

There is no issue as such, like falling feedstocks. Every year, whichever region gets less precipitation, a supply shortage emerges for 8-10 days. The Centre, as well as states, keep reserves of dry feed, fodder, and grass and utilize it in such a situation. We haven’t received a request from any states for the same yet.

Additionally, we are focusing on readying climate-resilient breeds. The ministry has been promoting breed improvement under the Rashtriya Gokul Mission and the National Livestock Mission.

The ways in which we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions are by improving the productivity of our animals, adopting a predominantly crop residue-based feeding pattern, adopting a mixed crop-livestock production system, encouraging producers to feed a balanced ration and adopting renewable energy in the dairy value chain. The existing Ration Balancing Programme reduced methane emissions by 10-14% in lactating bovines resulting in a reduction of 0.71 million certified emission reduction units.

How has the progress been in boosting domestic milk production?

India is witnessing a new era of cooperative movement after the formation of a separate ministry for this sector. About 200,000 new Primary Agriculture Credit Societies and dairy-fishery co-operatives will be set up in villages and panchayats untapped by co-operatives over the next five years. It will be a game changer in dairy sector as well.

The department has been implementing the Dairy Development Scheme across the country since 2014 to strengthen infrastructure for producing quality milk, procurement, processing, and marketing of milk and milk products. The scheme was restructured in July 2021 and will be implemented from 2021-22 to 2025-26 with a total outlay of 1,790 crore. The restructured scheme has two components: Component B, or dairying through cooperatives, is for creating necessary dairy infrastructure, providing market linkages for the produce in villages and strengthening of capacity building of stakeholding Institutions from village to state level. The scheme will also cover milk producer companies and farmer-producer organizations through NDDB (National Development Dairy Board).

What is the status of the vaccination drive to control lumpy skin disease cases, particularly in Nagaland? When can we expect the situation to be under control?

Such diseases can be called epidemics or pandemics and are highly infectious. Nagaland got affected because Nepal, which recently recorded a significant number of lumpy skin disease cases, is near it. The disease is under control, with only 7,050 active cases presently. Over 119.6 million animals have been vaccinated, and the vaccination drive is underway. The central government has issued an advisory to all states on lumpy skin disease control, treatment, vaccination and surveillance. States are also assisted financially and technically.

Out of the allocation of 4,328 crore for the livestock health and disease control programme, how much has been spent, and where?

The budget under livestock health and disease control is being utilized towards vaccination programmes, establishment and strengthening of veterinary hospitals and dispensaries, assistance to states for control of animal diseases, etc. Total utilization to date is 14.34 crore. Apart from this, National Seed Corp. proposals worth 769.21 crore were approved, and administrative approval is being conveyed to states.

What are the developments on integrating various infrastructures with PM Gati Shakti-National Master Plan to enhance infrastructure connectivity projects?

As of date, the department has integrated 12 breed improvement institutions, including seven central cattle breeding farms, eight regional fodder stations, six animal quarantine and certification services, four central poultry development organizations, and Delhi Milk Scheme, among others under its management located at various locations of the country with PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan.

Now, the integration of animal husbandry census data in the National Master Plan portal is under process. Further, the department is in consultation with various stakeholders to integrate all the veterinary dispensaries, milk processing plants, chilling centres and infrastructure projects.

In the budget, credit targets for agriculture and allied sectors were increased to 2 trillion. How many Kisan credit cards (KCC) have been issued to dairy farmers?

As of 14 July, 2.82 million fresh KCC were sanctioned for animal husbandry and dairying farmers in the country, out of which 1.92 million were approved for dairy farmers.

What additional measures are being implemented to offer relief to dairy farmers who assert their margins are narrowing due to their inability to pass on the losses?

Indian livestock produces over 221 million tonnes of milk, and the socio-economic condition of small and marginal farmers should also be considered while calculating methane emissions by Indian livestock.

There are two reasons why farmers are operating with a hand-to-mouth margin. Though we are number one globally, our individual production is less. We are number one because of the high population of animals. Globally, the average milk production is above 25-30 litres, and we are between 2.5-3 litres. If we had addressed the issue 25-30 years ago by improving breeding, today we’ve gotten the same average quantity. Brazil is leading in this sector globally with an Indian breed that delivers up to 50 litres of milk. They achieved it in 20 years. If we incorporate the technology they use, results will be reflected in three years. I have visited Brazil, and an MoU has been signed between Brazil and the National Dairy Development Board for technology support. We have taken up the breed improvement process officially and are also inviting private entrepreneurs to collaborate with the government. We are providing subsidies to them.

We are also looking to help farmers to get their production costs covered. As part of the process, we are focusing on breed improvement and animal health management. Hospital facilities for animals are not as good as for humans yet. Therefore, the central government and state governments are trying to strengthen the infrastructure. To improve animal health management, we came up with the concept of mobile veterinary units, and about 4,341 ambulances are currently operational.

Though artificial insemination in dairy animals is going well, the only challenge is timeliness. Because of this, the success rate is still below 30%. The arrival of ambulances on time is crucial. Therefore, we are working on improving artificial insemination processes. 

Now we have sex-sorted semen to control unwanted male animal population. We had the technology, but implementation was an issue. The concept of a balanced diet in animal feed has also been introduced. With this, dairy farmers are taking care of animals. Dairy farmers face difficulty in procuring high-quality heifers or milch animals from their local areas. To address this issue, a subsidy of 50% up to 2 crore per farm on capital cost is being provided to private entrepreneurs for the establishment of breed multiplication farms. So far, 2.87 million milch animals across 31,374 villages of 15 states have been covered. The project also contributed towards lowering the cost of feeding per kg of milk by about 11.5% as against the project target of 7%, which resulted in an increase in the net daily income of milk producers by about 8,000 per lactation of 305 days.

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Updated: 01 Aug 2023, 11:55 PM IST

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