‘Pure’ dairy farming: An idea whose time has come

INDIA - Which is India’s No. 1 farm commodity? Wheat, rice, sugarcane, cotton or oilseeds? Well, none of them: The right answer is milk.
calendar icon 28 December 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
In 2006-07, the country produced an estimated 100 million tonnes (mt) of milk. At an average farmgate price of Rs 10 per kg, this would have been worth Rs 100,000 crore, exceeding that of any other crop.

Moreover, the share of the ‘milk group’ in the total value of output from agriculture and livestock during 2004-05 (at current prices) was 17.89 per cent. This means almost every fifth rupee generated from agriculture and allied activities in the country comes from dairying. And amidst an overall stagnant farm sector, this is one segment that has exhibited significant dynamism in recent times. Between 1990-91 and 2006-07, milk production has nearly doubled from 53.9 mt to 100 mt, while rising from 55.1 mt to 74.9 mt for wheat and 74.3 mt to 92.8 mt for rice.

Milk, not exciting enough

Yet, strangely enough, milk excites neither policymakers nor corporates. The planner sees dairying as basically an activity subsidiary to agriculture. Partly this belief stems from the cattle and buffaloes in India being largely fed on crop residues — wheat and paddy straw, sugarcane tops or the protein-rich cake remaining after extraction of oil from groundnut or mustard-seed. Milk, from this perspective, is more of a residual than a primary agricultural product. Though farmers do grow barseem, sorghum or maize as independent fodder crops in isolated plots, the idea of a ‘pure’ dairy farmer is something that has not really caught on, leave alone capture official imagination.

Source: The Hindu Business Line
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