Animal husbandry refers to livestock raising and selective breeding. It is the management and care of animals in which the genetic qualities and behavior of animals are further developed for profit.
India’s livestock sector is one of the largest in the world. About 20.5 million people depend upon livestock for their livelihood. Livestock contributed 16% to the income of small farm households as against an average of 14% for all rural households. Livestock provides livelihood to two-third of rural community. It also provides employment to about 8.8 % of the population in India. India has vast livestock resources. Livestock sector contributes 4.11% GDP and 25.6% of total Agriculture GDP.
Economic Survey 2020 noted that livestock sector has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 7.9 per cent during last five years. As per the Economic Survey-2021, the contribution of Livestock in total agriculture and allied sector Gross Value Added (at Constant Prices) has increased from 24.32% (2014-15) to 28.63% (2018-19). Livestock income has become an important secondary source of income for rural families and has assumed an important role in achieving the goal of doubling farmers’ income.
Trends in livestock sector in India
Source: 20th Livestock Census
- Total Livestock population is 535.78 million- an increase of 4.6% over Livestock Census-2012.
- Total Bovine population (Cattle, Buffalo, Mithun and Yak)-79 Million in 2019- an increase of about 1% over the previous census.
- A decline of 6 % in the total Indigenous/ Non-descript cattle population over the previous census.
- The population of cows in the country has risen by 18 per cent in the last seven years, while that of oxen dipped by 30 per cent, according to the latest census of livestock.
- there was a spectacular 16.8 per cent increase in the poultry population in the country to 851.81 million, mainly on account of a 46 per cent rise in backyard poultry birds, whose numbers have gone up to 317 million.
- The number of female cattle is 145.12 million, which is 18 per cent over the 122.98 million in 2012. The number of male cattle, on the other hand, dropped to 47.4 million as against 67.92 million in 2012.
- While cattle accounted for 35.94 per cent of total livestock in the country, goats accounted for 27.80 per cent, buffaloes: 20.45 per cent, sheep: 13.87 per cent and pigs: 1.69 per cent.
- Small Ruminant Sector: Sheep and goat are collectively known as small ruminants.
- India supports 16.1 per cent of the world’s goat population and 6.4 per cent of its sheep (FAO).
- 20th Livestock Census: India is the world’s highest livestock owner at about 535.78 million.
- First in the total buffalo population in the world – 109.85 million buffaloes.
- Second in the population of goats – 148.88 million goats.
- Second largest poultry market in the world.
- Second largest producer of fish and also second largest aquaculture nation in the world.
- Third in the population of sheep (74.26 millions)
- Fifth in in the population of ducks and chicken (851.81 million)
- Tenth in camel population in the world – 2.5 lakhs
Role of livestock in socio-economic life of India:
The livestock plays an important role in the economy of farmers. The farmers in India maintain mixed farming system i.e. a combination of crop and livestock where the output of one enterprise becomes the input of another enterprise thereby realize the resource efficiency. The livestock serve the farmers in different ways.
- Livestock is a source of subsidiary income for many families in India especially the resource poor who maintain few heads of animals.
- Cows and buffaloes if in milk will provide regular income to the livestock farmers through sale of milk.
- Animals like sheep and goat serve as sources of income during emergencies to meet exigencies like marriages, treatment of sick persons, children education, repair of houses etc.
- The animals also serve as moving banks and assets which provide economic security to the owners.
- A large number of people in India being less literate and unskilled depend upon agriculture for their livelihoods.
- But agriculture being seasonal in nature could provide employment for a maximum of 180 days in a year.
- The land less and less land people depend upon livestock for utilizing their labour during lean agricultural season.
- The livestock products such as milk, meat and eggs are an important source of animal protein to the members of the livestock owners.
- The per capita availability of milk is around 355 g / day; eggs is 69 / annum;
- Social security:
- The animals offer social security to the owners in terms of their status in the society.
- The families especially the landless which own animals are better placed than those who do not.
- Gifting of animals during marriages is a very common phenomenon in different parts of the country.
- Rearing of animals is a part of the Indian culture. Animals are used for various socio religious functions.
- Cows for house warming ceremonies; rams, bucks and chicken for sacrifice during festive seasons;
- Bulls and Cows are worshipped during various religious functions. Many owners develop attachment to their animals.
- Gender equity:
- Animal husbandry promotes gender equity.
- More than three-fourth of the labour demand in livestock production is met by women.
- The share of women employment in livestock sector is around 90% in Punjab and Haryana where dairying is a prominent activity and animals are stall-fed.
- Bullocks are the back bone of Indian agriculture. Despite lot of advancements in the use of mechanical power in Indian agricultural operations, the Indian farmer especially in rural areas still depend upon bullocks for various agricultural operations.
- The bullocks are saving a lot on fuel which is a necessary input for using mechanical power like tractors, combine harvesters etc.
- Pack animals like camels, horses, donkeys, ponies, mules etc are being extensively used to transport goods in different parts of the country in addition to bullocks.
- In situations like hilly terrains mules and ponies serve as the only alternative to transport goods.
- Similarly, the army has to depend upon these animals to transport various items in high areas of high altitude.
- In rural areas dung is used for several purposes which include fuel (dung cakes), fertilizer (farm yard manure), and plastering material (poor man’s cement).
Contributions of Livestock Sector to Indian Economy
- According to NSSO’s 68th Round Survey on Employment and Unemployment, 16.44 million workers were engaged in the activities of farming of animals, mixed farming, fishing and aquaculture.
- Largest Milk Producer:
- India is the largest producer of milk in the world.
- Milk production in the country was 188 million tonnes in 2018-19 with a yearly growth rate of 6.5 percent resulting in increased per capita availability to 394 grams per day.
- About 20.5 million people depend upon livestock for their livelihood. Livestock contributed 16% to the income of small farm households as against an average of 14% for all rural households.
- Livestock provides livelihood to two-third of rural community. As per the 70th round of NSSO, livestock rearing is a principal source of income to 3.7 per cent of the agricultural households.
- Livestock sector contributes11% GDP and 25.6% of total Agriculture GDP.
- The livestock products such as milk, meat and eggs are an important source of animal protein to the members of the livestock owners. The per capita availability of milk is around 375 g / day; eggs is 74 / annum during 2017-18.
- Social security:
- The animals offer social security to the owners in terms of their status in the society. The families especially the landless which own animals are better placed than those who do not.
- Fisheries Sector:
- The sector provides livelihood to about 16 million fishers and fish farmers at the primary level and almost twice the number along the value chain.
- Share in Agricultural GDP and export: The sector accounts for 58 percent of GDP from agriculture, forestry and fishing.
- Also, the sector is one of the major contributors of foreign exchange earnings with India being one of the leading seafood exporting nations in the world.
- Fish Production: The total fish production in the country was 13.42 million metric tonnes (MMT) during 2018-19. (Marine fisheries- 3.71 MMT and Inland fisheries- 9.71 MMT)
Challenges faced by the Livestock sector in India
- Productivity: Improving the productivity of farm animals is one of the major challenges. The average annual milk yield of Indian cattle is 1172 kg which is only about 50 per cent of the global average.
- Diseases: The frequent outbreaks of diseases like Foot and Mouth Diseases, Black Quarter infection; Influenza, etc. continue to affect livestock health and lowers productivity.
- Greenhouse Gases: India’s huge population of ruminants contributes to greenhouse gases emission. Reducing greenhouse gases through mitigation and adaptation strategies will be a major challenge.
- Loss of indigenous breeds: Crossbreeding of indigenous species with exotic stocks to enhance the genetic potential of different species has been successful only to a limited extent.
- Limited Artificial Insemination services owing to a deficiency in quality germplasm, infrastructure and technical manpower coupled with poor conception rate following artificial insemination have been the major impediments.
- Less credit: The sector received only about 12 per cent of the total public expenditure on agriculture and allied sectors, which is disproportionately lesser than its contribution to agricultural GDP. The sector has been neglected by financial institutions.
- Meat production and market: Likewise, slaughtering facilities are inadequate. About half of the total meat production comes from un-registered, make-shift slaughterhouses. Marketing and transaction costs of livestock products are high taking 15-20 per cent of the sale price.
With increasing population, persistent rise in food inflation, unfortunate rise in farmer’s suicide and majority of the Indian population having agriculture as the primary occupation, the practice of animal husbandry is no more a choice, but a need in contemporary scenario. Its successful, sustainable and skilful implementation will go a long way in ameliorating the socio-economic condition of lower strata of our society. Linking the animal husbandry with food processing industry, agriculture, researches & patents has all the possible potential to make India a nutritional power house of the world. Animal husbandry is the imperative hope, definite desire and urgent panacea for India as well as the world.