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Under the Agriculture Working Group (AWG) of G20, the International Symposium on Sustainable Livestock Transformation was inaugurated at National Dairy Development Board, Anand.

Livestock provides livelihood to two-third of rural community. Also, the sector contributes to around 4% of country’s GDP.

Dairy is the single-largest agri commodity in India. India is ranked 1st in milk production contributing 23% of global milk production.

There are about 303.76 million bovines (cattle, buffalo, mithun and yak), 74.26 million sheep, 148.88 million goats, 9.06 million pigs and about 851.81 million poultry as per 20th Livestock Census in the country.

According to Food and Agriculture Organization Corporate Statistical Database (FAOSTAT) production data (2020), India ranks 3rd in Egg Production and 8th in meat production in the world.

Related Constitutional Provisions:

Directive Principle of State Policy:

Article 48: The State shall work towards organizing agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines.

It shall take steps to preserve and improve the breeds of cows, calves, and other milch and draught cattle and prohibit their slaughter.

Fundamental Duty:

Article 51A(g): It is the duty of every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment, including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to show compassion for all living creatures.

Challenges Related to Livestock Sector in India:

Resource Scarcity and Feed Shortages: The demand for animal feed, including grains and fodder, surpasses supply, resulting in higher costs for farmers and compromised animal nutrition.

This scarcity affects livestock health, productivity, and overall welfare, necessitating innovative solutions for sustainable feed production and distribution. According to the Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute (IGFRI), India faces a green fodder shortage of 63.5%, and the shortage of dry fodder is 23.5%.

Inadequate Healthcare Infrastructure: Limited access to veterinary services and vaccines poses a threat to disease control, leading to frequent outbreaks that impact livestock productivity and quality of produce e.g., lumpy skin disease.

Climate Change and Environmental Pressures: Erratic weather patterns, water scarcity, and rising temperatures impact both feed and water availability, making livestock vulnerable to heat stress and related diseases. A study by the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) found that heat stress reduced milk yield by 0.45 kg per cow per day during summer months in India.

Quality Breeding and Genetic Improvement: Livestock breeding in India often faces limitations in terms of access to quality breeding stock and genetic improvement programs. According to the Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying (DAHD), only 30% of the breedable female bovines are covered under artificial insemination services in India.

Animal Welfare and Ethical Concerns: Ethical issues related to livestock farming, such as animal cruelty and inhumane practices, have gained increasing attention in recent years.

Way Forward

Nutritional Innovation for Livestock Feed: Encouraging research and development in alternative and sustainable feed sources. There is a need to invest in technologies for insect-based protein, algae-based supplements, and byproduct utilization to reduce dependency on traditional feed crops.

Livestock Waste-to-Energy Projects: Promote the establishment of bioenergy plants that utilize livestock waste for biogas production.

This not only addresses waste management but also generates renewable energy for rural communities. The byproducts of biogas production can be used as organic fertilizers, closing the loop on resource utilization and enhancing sustainability. Also, promoting circular economies by converting agricultural waste into nutritious animal feed which can be both eco-friendly and cost-effective.

Genetic Surveillance: Genetic Surveillance especially of viruses needs to be strengthened for livestock in India. As the lumpy skin disease outbreak continues to spread rapidly with high mortality, there is a need to scrutinise its genetic structure and analyse its behaviour to tackle this issue effectively.

Towards One-Health Approach: Recognizing the One Health Approach is crucial, understanding the interconnectedness of people, animals, plants, and the environment. Encouraging interdisciplinary collaborations in research and knowledge sharing can promote health sustainability and effectively address zoonotic diseases.