The dairy sector plays a crucial role in the rural economy

Dairy products are one of the important sectors of the rural economy which contributes to the economic condition of 80 million landless, small and marginal farming households.

On November 26, 2014, National Milk Day was celebrated for the first time to commemorate the birthday of Dr. Verghese Kurien, the father of the White Revolution in India. The National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and Indian Dairy Association (IDA), as well as 22 state-level dairy federations, have agreed to commemorate the day each year. On November 26, 2021, India will commemorate Dr Kurien’s 100th birthday. On this day, efforts are made to raise awareness of the relevance of milk and dairy products in daily life and the importance of the dairy sector in the rural Indian economy.

During the 1950s and 1960s, India was a milk deficit country and depended mainly on imports. To overcome this problem, the government created the NDDB in 1965 and asked Dr Kurien to replicate the “Anand” dairy cooperative model throughout the country. In 1970, the NDDB launched a large dairy development program called “Operation Flood (OF)” under the leadership of Dr Kurien to expand the network of dairy cooperatives, build dairy infrastructure and increase the participation of women in dairy cooperatives. The OF program has transformed India from a milk deficit nation into one of the world’s leading milk producers. As a result of these efforts, in 1998 India became self-sufficient and overtook the United States in milk production, contributing 22 percent of global milk production in 2018.

In addition, the dairy sector is one of the important sectors of the rural economy which improves the economic situation of 80 million landless, small and marginal farming households in India. The sector also contributes to reducing rural poverty, inequalities and ensuring the nutrition of poor rural households. The livestock sector also contributes around 4.11% of India’s GDP and 25.6% of total agricultural GDP, while the dairy sector claims a significant share by contributing 67% of total animal production. (National accounts statistics, 2019). In particular, milk production represents more than 20.6% of the combined production of paddy, wheat and legumes.

This sector also offers self-employment opportunities, especially for women and economically disadvantaged groups. Each year, 8.4 million small and marginal farmers depend on the dairy sector for their livelihood, both directly and indirectly, 71% of whom are women, demonstrating that the sector plays a vital role in the empowerment of women and the inclusive growth. In developing countries, greater growth in the dairy sector can raise women’s educational attainment and close the gender gap. The dairy sector is thus an essential engine to help India achieve the SDGs set out in 2015 by the United Nations to transform the world and protect the planet we live on.

In addition, keeping in mind the nutritional value of milk, in 2018 an advisory was issued to all states to include milk in the midday meal program and other nutritional programs of anganwadis and in the programs. current health care as well as for women. and the Department of Child Development to address malnutrition in the country. The Department of Food and Public Distribution has also been requested to include milk in the PDS system. This will likely increase milk consumption, which in turn will produce better income for dairy farmers during the hunting season.

India is self-sufficient in milk production, but only ten Indian states produce 81 percent of total milk produced, and only nine states have achieved national per capita milk availability. Data shows that milk production in India is concentrated in a few states due to their strong networks of dairy cooperatives and a higher remunerative price of milk received by farmers in their respective states. In order to get around this, the Indian government needs to design an appropriate dairy development policy to improve milk production and supply in the remaining potential districts and states. This implies that the promotion of milk among small and landless farmers is essential to increase the availability of milk, especially in milk deficit areas.

It will also help develop the dairy sector and replicate the “Anand model” across the country to improve dairy production and create employment opportunities. In addition, the recent government announcement to set up a fund of Rs 15,000 crore for the development of livestock infrastructure will help promote private investment in the sector and improvement of livestock feeding infrastructure. . Finally, this move will boost local manufacturing and consumption of locally produced goods and help advance India’s goal of reaching Atmanirbhar Bharat.

(Dr Yashobanta Parida is Assistant Professor of Economics at FLAME University, Pune; Prakash Kumar Sahoo is an OES Officer and teaches at Vikram Deb Autonomous College, Jeypore, Odisha; Dr Parul Bhardwaj is an independent researcher from New Delhi. The opinions expressed are personal.)

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