After nearly a decade of the Rashtriya Gokul Mission, it has become evident that the scheme, initially aimed at enhancing the quality of various indigenous cattle breeds, has primarily focused on promoting a single breed, the Gir cow, throughout the country.
GS II: Government policies and Interventions
Dimensions of the Article:
- About the Rashtriya Gokul Mission
- Issues with Rashtriya Gokul Mission
- Issues with Indigenous Gir Cow Breed
- Possible Solutions
About the Rashtriya Gokul Mission
- The Rashtriya Gokul Mission was launched in December 2014.
- It has been extended as part of the Rashtriya Pashudhan Vikas Yojana from 2021 to 2026.
- Enhancing Productivity: The mission aims to boost the productivity of indigenous bovine breeds while ensuring sustainability. It leverages advanced technologies for this purpose.
- Increased Milk Production: One of its goals is to facilitate a significant increase in milk production through efficient bovine management practices.
- High-Quality Breeding: The mission advocates the use of high genetic merit bulls for breeding, contributing to the improvement of cattle genetics.
- Widening Insemination Coverage: Strengthening the breeding network and making artificial insemination services easily accessible to farmers is a key objective.
- Holistic Conservation: The mission is dedicated to the scientific and comprehensive conservation of indigenous cattle and buffalo breeds.
Issues with Rashtriya Gokul Mission:
- Established in 2014, the Rashtriya Gokul Mission was intended to enhance the quality of semen for various indigenous cattle breeds in India.
- However, the mission has largely prioritized the Gir cow, primarily due to its milk production and adaptability to different regions.
- This preference for Gir cows is evident from the 2019 livestock census, which showed a substantial increase in purebred Gir cows since 2013, while other indigenous breeds like Sahiwal and Hariana have not seen similar growth and, in some cases, have experienced a decline.
- This trend has raised concerns about the diminishing diversity of indigenous cattle breeds in India.
Issues with Indigenous Gir Cow Breed:
- Despite the growing focus on Gir cows, research indicates that graded Gir cows (a crossbreed of Gir and other nondescript varieties) do not consistently outperform indigenous breeds in many Indian states.
- For example, in Haryana, there is no substantial evidence of increased milk production in graded Gir cows.
- East Rajasthan reports lower milk production in graded Gir cows compared to indigenous breeds, leading to farmer complaints about shorter lactation periods and reduced daily milk yields.
- However, in west Rajasthan, graded Gir cows perform better due to favorable climatic conditions.
- The performance of graded Gir cows is influenced by factors beyond their adaptability to microclimatic conditions. For instance, Gir cows thrive in herds, and their milk production decreases when raised in isolation.
- Without adequate resources and support, these cows can become a liability for farmers, as previously seen in Vidarbha.
- Experts recommend a shift from the current focus on a limited number of high-yielding bovine varieties to identifying and selectively breeding genetically superior cows within indigenous breeds.
- Successful experiments conducted by Maharashtra’s animal husbandry department in 2012-14, delivering semen from genetically superior indigenous breeds to farms, demonstrate the potential of this approach.
- India possesses a diverse cow population, each adapted to specific regions. Promoting continuous crossbreeding may risk the extinction of region-specific traits in graded varieties.
- Crossbreeding indigenous Badri cows from Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand with Gir cows, for example, could enhance milk production but may alter their physiology, which should be avoided.
- Experts emphasize the importance of not repeating the mistakes of the White Revolution, which introduced exotic breeds like Jersey for crossbreeding with Indian varieties.
- Although this increased milk production, it did not necessarily lead to higher income for livestock rearers, as crossbred cows were more vulnerable to diseases and required greater care.
-Source: The Hindu.