India possesses the highest livestock population in the world, as per the 20th Livestock Census. This sector is a major source of livelihood for approximately two-thirds of the rural community and contributes to around 8.8% of the country’s population. In terms of GDP, it contributes 4.11%, and in the agriculture sector, it constitutes 25.6% of the total GDP.

The livestock sector in India faces several challenges, which include:

  • Low productivity: Indigenous breeds have significantly lower productivity compared to foreign breeds, posing a burden rather than an asset for farmers.
  • High incidence of diseases: Improved livestock quality through crossbreeding programs has increased susceptibility to various diseases, including exotic ones like hemorrhagic septicemia and swine fever, resulting in economic losses for farmers.
  • Inadequate infrastructure:
    o Insufficient number of veterinary institutions meeting required standards.
    o Shortage of vaccines and cold storage facilities.
    o Inadequate attention given to extension services.
    o Lack of access to institutional credit.
    o Predominantly informal livestock market.
  • Other challenges include a shortage of feed and fodder, with only 5% of the cropped area utilized for fodder production, and a decline in permanent pastures/grasslands (3.3%).
  • Additionally, unconventional sources of milk, such as camel and yak, are not comprehensively included in policies and programs. Unfavorable food safety and quality norms for India hinder potential export growth in the livestock sector.

To address these challenges, the following measures can be implemented:

  • Strengthening linkages between production and markets through institutions like cooperatives, producers’ associations, and contract farming.
  • Promoting automation systems in livestock farms to enhance productivity, product quality, and reduce labor requirements.
  • Exploring additional funds from schemes like Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF), and MPLAD funds to improve veterinary health services in states and union territories.
  • Establishing a network of Mobile Veterinary Clinics (MVC) to provide doorstep delivery of veterinary services in remote, border, and inaccessible areas.
  • Expanding the number of Veterinary Colleges/Universities to address the shortage of trained manpower in veterinary services.
  • Encouraging investments from private companies and cooperative societies to enhance veterinary infrastructure, such as the establishment of Mobile Dispensaries in Gujarat.
  • Creating One-Stop Centers for livestock issues, ensuring the eradication of infectious diseases and dissemination of information to even the remotest areas of the country.


Livestock not only serves as a safeguard against agricultural risks but also provides opportunities for additional income. Implementing the aforementioned measures will help unlock the sector’s potential and contribute to the goal of doubling farmers’ income.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish January 12, 2024