Animal husbandry, an integral aspect of agriculture, involves the breeding of domestic animals, particularly farm animals, primarily for economic purposes.
It plays a crucial role in sustainable agriculture and offers several advantages, including:
- Ensuring income security for farmers: Unlike food crops, animal husbandry is less vulnerable to climatic changes and facilitates value addition, providing a stable income source for farmers.
- Promoting social and economic empowerment of women: Women constitute a significant portion of the livestock sector workforce, contributing to their empowerment and economic independence.
- Ensuring nutritional security: Animal husbandry contributes to nutritional security through the production of milk, curd, meat, eggs, etc., which enhance the nutritional indicators of the country.
- Supporting sustainable agriculture: Animal husbandry practices such as organic farming and Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) contribute to making agriculture more sustainable.
To boost the animal husbandry sector, the government has implemented various measures, including:
- National Livestock Mission: This mission focuses on enhancing employment generation through entrepreneurship and improving livestock breeds.
- Animals Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF): This fund incentivizes investments by MSMEs, FPOs, and entrepreneurs in the animal husbandry sector.
- National Animal Disease Control Program (NADCP): This program aims to safeguard livestock from diseases like Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and brucellosis through vaccination.
- National Artificial Insemination Program: This initiative aims to improve milk production by utilizing low-cost breeding technology to enhance genetic merit.
- Rastriya Gokul Mission: Launched to promote bovine breeding, this mission focuses on conserving and developing indigenous bovine breeds.
- Pashu Aadhar Yojna: This program tracks livestock for disease control, productivity monitoring, and other related purposes.
While these government interventions have positively impacted the animal husbandry sector, certain limitations persist. These include:
1 . Successes:
- Increased milch cattle population: India has become the largest milk producer globally with a population of 74.6 million milch cattle.
- Contribution to small farmers’ income: Livestock now accounts for 16% of the income of small farmers.
- Contribution to agriculture GDP: Animal husbandry contributes more than 25% to the agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
- Growth rate of the livestock sector: The livestock sector in India has witnessed a growth rate surpassing 8% according to the Economic Survey 2020.
- Largest livestock owner: India has emerged as the world’s largest livestock owner with 535.78 million livestock, as per the 20th Livestock Census.
- Inadequate fodder quality: Poor fodder quality adversely affects productivity, with Indian cattle yielding an average of 1777 kg per animal per year compared to the global average of 2699 kg per animal per year.
- Diseases affecting Indian cattle: Diseases like Black Quarter infection and Influenza continue to impact the health and productivity of Indian cattle.
- Unscientific handling and rising antimicrobial resistance (AMR): These factors affect the export potential of the animal husbandry sector.
- Shortage of skilled human resources: The shortage of registered veterinarians and skilled professionals hampers the development of the animal husbandry sector.
- Inadequate linkages: The lack of proper forward and backward linkages, such as poor linkages with the Food Processing Industry (FPI), limits the potential of the animal husbandry sector.
Animal husbandry serves as a significant tool for ensuring nutritional security, empowering women, and increasing farm income. Therefore, its holistic development through a stakeholder-centric approach is of utmost importance.