Speech of Prof. K.V. Thomas, Hon'ble Minister of State for Agriculture at the Conference of State Ministers of Animal Husbandry

Speech of Prof. K.V. Thomas, Hon'ble Minister of State for Agriculture, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution at the Conference of State Ministers of Animal Husbandry, Dairying on 20th January 2010, at PUSA, New Delhi.

1. Shri. Sharad Pawarji, Ministers in Charge of Animal Husbandry and Dairying in State Governments, Shri Rudra Gangadharan, Secretary, Animal Husbandry Dairying & Fisheries, Shri T. Nanda Kumar, Secretary, Department of Agriculture & Cooperation, Sh L. Rynijah, Principal Adviser, Planning Commission, Dr. Ayyappan, Secretary, Department of Agriculture Research and Education, Dr. Amrita Patel, Chairman NDDB, Officers of Central and State Governments, Distinguished participants and representatives of media

The success of Dairying in the present scenario will move around three fundamental premises.

  1. Increasing cost effective inputs and governing their quality such as breeding system, veterinary care system and nutrition.
  2. Ensuring fair price to milk and milk products by using  intra and inter sectoral competition in the cooperative and profit sector.
  3. Increasing the technology enhanced productivity in marketing of milk products with specific reference to food safety and bio-safety protocols.

The story of Dairying in India revolves around our success on the model of marketing through cooperatives developed by Shri Verghese Kurian in Anand. Unlike the green revolution which has given us considerable nutritional security, the input revolution in Dairying has not been achieved at scale. Though we are the world's largest milk producer, most of the productivity successes revolve around a few States with strong fodder and agricultural by-product bases, strong institutional network, input and veterinary care systems and a marketing chain. These States lead the dairying sector in the country. We have to now see that the States which are lagging behind also catch up with due support from the Government of India and its expert agencies.

Following up the successful phases of 'Operation Flood' by the National Dairy Development plan is central to achieving these goals. The plan, at final stages of negotiation aims to increase procurement levels to 65% of marketable surplus. This can happen only with consistent organizational strengthening and professionalization of the cooperative sector. In the coming months, NDP will be a focus of attention and a broad consensus required to make it a huge success needs to be achieved. The NDP will have a critical stake in uplifting our economy and taking the dairy sector to the next orbit.

On the input side, many concerns persist. While the DADF has evolved standard operating products (SOPs) to standardize semen production in the country, an evaluation of Bull stations reveal that only 27 of 49 have satisfactory ratings. Limiting the number of breeding stations with large capacity and high maintenance of Biosafety protocol is called for. Semen being a potential carrier of diseases and defective genetics, we need to be extra careful in maintaining safety protocols and preventive vaccination around bull stations. I hope that the 5 large modern semen production stations proposed under NDP with a projected production rate of 140 million doses will meet the demand to a good extent.

Veterinary Services across the country call for strengthening. It is estimated that the country is short of 20,000 Veterinarians every year. Cash starved state governments are no longer able to start or sustain veterinary education. The Government of India reviewed the situation and found that huge manpower shortages plague state Veterinary departments in supporting cadres also. The efforts of Indian Veterinary Council and DADF need to be enhanced to tide over the staff shortages especially in rural areas which either deny services or delay key timely interventions like artificial insemination to the determent of the farmer.

Adoption of recent innovations in feeding is an area where state departments may like to focus more. It is a widely accepted fact that cow herding is successful economically in areas where either luxuriant fodder availability is there or large quantum of agricultural by-products are available. By enacting legislation fixing standards for manufactured animal feed and emphasizing innovations like by pass proteins , bypass fats, area specific remedial mineral mixes, densification of fodder residues etc the nutrition challenge has to be overcome. Fodder development especially in rainfed zones have to be intensified and fodder diversification and block making units subsidized.

I am aware that various efforts under the aegis of DADF, NDDB and State governments in creating contagious disease free zones with respect to key cattle diseases are underway. However DADF programmes, supplemented by State Governments cover only a faction of what is desired. As of now most vaccinations conducted against infectious diseases are not in a campaign mode with adequate publicity. The NDDB pilot against FMD target herd immunity with carpet vaccination of entire productive herd in 21 days. In states like Kerala the programme has worked on a charge basis with tagging and identification of all animals.  A corpus is also created to take the state vide programme forward even in the absence of budgeting support. Such flexible models need to be scaled up.

Reviews of DADF programmes like NPCBB (National Project for Cattle and Buffalo Breeding), Intensive Dairy Development Programme, Assistance to Cooperatives, Strengthening Infrastructure for Quality and Clean Milk Production, Dairy Venture Capital Fund also reveal problems of timely cash flows. Many State Governments fail to fund the State shares in time for programmes to be run without hindrances. I would request State Ministers to please review functioning of Govt Support separately with Finance Secretaries. Diversifying milk products and enhancing the value chain has benefitted immensely from the various institutions set up under Operation Flood. We need to bring in more success stories out of our experience in cooperative sector.

Two other factors merit our consideration today. While pursuing an aggressive input up gradation, price stabilization and technology enhanced productivity, we must not eradicate the huge diversity of the genetic pool available to us Our efforts in genetic technology must also focus on preservation and propagation of robust native stocks.

Lastly the efforts must also acknowledge the sector's spectacular contribution to women's incomes. The participation of women as farmers and managers and the significance of the buffaloes in ensuring a success story in dairying often go unsung. The 'Gramin' model women self help group's in microfinance have proven to be a large success in many states. Can dairying be a potential investment for the SHG'S and can the State Animal Husbandry Departments work more closely with the thrift Societies using the venture capital funding and employment schemes as well?

As an end note I also feel that that the much ignored Buffalo needs more focus as a high value, low cost milk producing miracle. Studies show that due to its sturdiness and productivity, it has stood between many crises and the Indian dairy farmer.

With these observations, I hope that we will have a good exchange of Ideas in the forth coming session.

Thanking you