[Editorial Analysis] Not Milk and Honey

Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: Dairy production
Mains level: Issues related to Agriculture and Agricultural Income


• In the first wave the economy contracted by 7.2% in 2020-21, the agriculture and allied sectors put up spectacular performance with an annual growth of 3.4%.
• But the 2nd wave has thrown the milk producers into a deep crisis, the further aggravated their crisis.


• Among the farm-dependent population, those involved in dairying and livestock constitute 70 million.
• The total workforce exclusively engaged in the raising of cattle and buffalo is 7.7 million, among them, 69% are female workers which is 5.72% of the total female workforce of India.

The Dairy Sector Crisis:

• The livestock sector contributed 28% of total Agri GVA in 2019-20.
• With a growth rate of 6% per annum, milk production has been supporting many farmer families in times of crisis/calamities.
• During crop failures due to natural calamities, milk production rises because farmers depend more on animal husbandry.
• In India, Milk producers are highly susceptible to even minor shocks as the demand for milk and its products is sensitive to changes in employment and income of consumers.
• In India, unlike sugarcane and cereals producing farmers, the cattle rearers are unorganized and don’t have the political clout for rights advocacy.
• Though in terms of value, milk produced outweighs the combined value of the output of cereals in India.
• Even when in India, dairy cooperatives handle about 40% of the total marketable surplus of the milk, yet small and landless farmers ignore it because of is fat-based pricing which is 20-30% less than quantity-based pricing in the open market.
• Moreover during the early lactation phase, fat content in milk is low and farmers manage their livelihoods by selling milk in the open market at a higher price.
• However, the 2nd wave which has reached rural and remote areas resulted in a self-imposed ban on the door-to-door sale of milk by households, which forced farmers to sell the entire produce to dairy cooperatives at lower prices.
• Even govt admitted that milk producers in India have been facing an unprecedented livelihood crisis because of:
• Cut down of demand for milk due to shos closure.
• The severe shortage of fodder and feed has pushed up the input cost.
• Further, the availability of timely veterinary services has led to the death of milch animals.

Govt interventions and its evaluations:

• Animal Husbandry and Dairying Dept started nationwide Artificial Insemination programme with a target to augment milk productivity to 3000kg/annum/animal from present 1860 point.
• This would generate an expected additional income of Rs 67k cr. But the programme is facing with technicians shortage that would result in the delay of programme completion.
• Recently govt has included Dairy farmers in the Kisan Credit Card Programme that provides a zero-risk scheme for banks as the dairy cooperatives deduct the loan installment from the sale proceeds of milk supplied and remits to the bank. But in reality, not even 1/4th of 1.5 cr dairy farmer’s application forwarded to the banks.
• Even Dairying has been brought under MGNREGA to compensate farmers for the income loss.
• However, the budgetary allocation of MGNREGA for 2021-22 was curtailed by 34.5% in relation to 2020-21 estimates.

Way ahead:

• The dairy farmers need to be provided with a stable market and ensured remunerative price for liquid milk.
• It also need to provide an uninterrupted supply of fodder and cattle feed at a reasonable price.
• It also needs to ensure a regular supply of veterinary service and medicines.

Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With respect to “Strategy for pulses cultivation in kharif 20201”, consider the following statements:
1. All the high yielding varieties (HYVs) of seeds that are available either with the Central Seed Agencies or in the States will be distributed free of cost to increase area through intercropping and sole crop.
2. The Agricultural Technology Application Research Institutes(ATARIs) and Krishi Vigyan Kendras will be roped in for effective implementation and training to the farmers.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Answer: C

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