A 2022 study in ‘Lancet’ projected that rising temperatures could lead to a 25% reduction in milk production in India’s arid and semi-arid regions by the year 2085. This estimate ranks second highest in India, following Pakistan, which is expected to experience a 28.7% reduction. In humid and sub-humid areas, the projected reduction stands at 10%.
GS III: Agriculture
Dimensions of the Article:
- Impact of Heat Stress on Cattle
- Status of Milk Production in India
- Challenges Faced by Dairy Farmers
- The Way Forward for Dairy Farming Sustainability
Impact of Heat Stress on Cattle
- Effects on Mating Behavior:
- Elevated temperatures disrupt natural mating behavior in cows, reducing the duration and intensity of oestrus (readiness to mate) expression.
- Reduced Conception Rates:
- During summer seasons, conception rates in cows can decrease by 20 to 30%, according to a study published in Lancet.
- Lactating Cows’ Sensitivity to Heat:
- Lactating dairy cows are more sensitive to heat stress compared to non-lactating (dry) cows.
- Challenge for High-Yield Cows:
- Cows that produce higher milk yields are more challenged by heat stress due to the positive relationship between milk production and heat production.
- Impact on Milk Production:
- The increasing temperatures, especially affecting cross-bred cows, pose a significant challenge to India’s milk production, potentially leading to a decline in per capita consumption.
- Direct and Indirect Effects of Climate Change:
- Climate change affects the dairy sector both directly and indirectly.
- Direct effects include stress on animals due to changes in the temperature-humidity index, directly impacting milk production.
- Indirect effects involve adverse climate events affecting feed and water availability for cattle.
Status of Milk Production in India
- Total Milk Production: According to ‘Basic Animal Husbandry Statistics 2022,’ India’s total milk production in 2021-2022 reached 221.06 million tonnes, solidifying its position as the world’s largest milk-producing country.
- Contribution of Indigenous Cattle: Indigenous cattle contribute 10.35% of the total milk production in India.
- Contribution of Non-Descript Cattle: Non-descript cattle contribute 9.82% to the total milk production in the country.
- Contribution of Non-Descript Buffaloes: Non-descript buffaloes contribute 13.49% to the total milk production in India.
- Top Five Milk-Producing States: The top five major milk-producing states in India are Rajasthan (15.05%), Uttar Pradesh (14.93%), Madhya Pradesh (8.06%), Gujarat (7.56%), and Andhra Pradesh (6.97%).
- Global Significance: India’s milk production accounts for approximately 23% of global milk production, underscoring its substantial contribution to the world dairy market.
Challenges Faced by Dairy Farmers
- Government Policies Impacting Productivity:
- Dairy farmers allege that government policies introduced to enhance milk production, such as sex-sorted semen production, may have unintended consequences and potentially reduce overall productivity.
- Sex-Sorted Semen Policy:
- The sex-sorted semen policy aims to produce female calves with a claimed accuracy of up to 90% to boost milk production and control the population of stray cattle.
- Over the next five years, 5.1 million pregnancies are expected to be established under this program, with a subsidy offered for sex-sorted semen.
- Overlooking Male Cattle:
- The policy’s focus on female calf production may overlook and eliminate male cattle, which could serve as an energy source in farming.
- Underutilization of Male Cattle:
- Male cattle can have utility in agriculture, but their potential role has not been adequately considered.
- Challenges in Selling Unproductive Female Cattle:
- Farmers face difficulties in selling unproductive female cattle due to anti-slaughter rules in many states, which affects the overall management of dairy herds.
The Way Forward for Dairy Farming Sustainability
- Invest in Research and Innovation: Encourage research and innovation in cattle breeding and management practices to develop strategies that mitigate the impact of climate change on the dairy sector.
- Promote Sustainability and Renewable Energy: Promote sustainable farming practices within the dairy industry, including the use of renewable energy sources for dairy operations, to reduce the sector’s environmental footprint.
- Advocate for Inclusive Policies: Advocate for policies that take into account the welfare and utility of both male and female cattle, ensuring a balanced and sustainable approach.
- Responsible Management of Unproductive Cattle: Explore responsible and ethical options for the management of unproductive female cattle to address the challenges of their care and well-being.
- Contribute to Climate Mitigation: Recognize that climate change is a universal challenge and that the dairy sector must contribute to both adaptation and mitigation efforts. Work towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions from dairy operations, aligning with global climate goals.
-Source: Down To Earth