Global warming and rising temperature, leading to climate change, have become serious issues. It may affect India, the largest milk producer, in different way, and has caught attention of policy makers in the country.
It has been found that the increasing temperature has reduced the milk productivity of cross-bred cows across the globe, affecting countries largely dependent on cross-bred cows. These cows are less resistant to the increasing climatic change.
This issue was taken up in the first meeting of newly constituted Parliamentary Consultative Committee (PCC) in Delhi.
But the silver lining for India is that 79 percent of 30 crore bovines in the country are indigenous, which are resistant to increasing temperature. And therefore, milk productivity remains the same. Keeping in mind the increasing temperature, policy makers in India are focusing on ‘desi’ cows.
During the PCC meeting, Union Agriculture Minister, Radha Mohan Singh underlined the need for tapping the potential of indigenous breed of cows. He informed that Government of India has started Rashtriya Gokul Mission with the objective of enhancing milk production and productivity of indigenous bovines, also to distribute the disease-free, high genetic merit bulls of indigenous breeds for natural service. During the current year, the provision of Rs 150 crore has been made for this mission.
India ranks first among the world’s milk producing nations since 1998 and accounts for about 17 percent of the cattle population and 64 percent of the buffalo population.
Milk production in India has reached 137.6 million tonnes in 2013-14 as compared to 17 million tonnes in 1950-51. During the last five years, the rate of increase in milk production has remained at 4.2 percent which is higher than the growth rate of population. As a result, per capita availability of milk, which was 130gm per day during 1950-51, has increased to 302gm per day during 2013-14 which is more than 186gm estimated for Asia and the world average of 294gm. About 60 percent Indian farmers are small and marginal, who collectively own almost 75 percent of the female bovines, but only 40 percent of farmland.