Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh today took pot shot at some politicians and businessmen for playing politics over cattle, which is the economic engine in rural India. His statement comes in the backdrop of growing protest against the central government’s new rules that bar sale of cattle in market for slaughter. “In the newspaper, we see some politicians doing politics over the issue (cattle). Even media and businessmen are doing. However, there is growing awareness in the country (on cattle). Cattle do not belong to any particular community, they belong to farmers. Cattle is the economic engine in rural areas,” Singh said at an event organised to commemorate the World Milk Day. Dairy farming supplements farmers’ income and therefore the government is focusing on ensuring better returns to them under the schemes such as Rashtriya Gokul Mission and National Mission for Bovine Productivity, he said.
Much progress has been made in the first three years of the Modi government as farmers income from dairy grew by 13.79 per cent to Rs 33 per litre from Rs 29 per litre in 2011-14, while milk output increased to 465.5 million tonnes from 398 million tonnes in the said period. However, there is more scope for improvement in the dairy sector as the government is aiming to double farmers income by 2022, he added. Stating that the challenge before the government is raising milk yields, Singh said, “We have highest cattle population in the world. We are the largest milk producer in the world. But our milk productivity is very low.” This issue is being addressed by improving the productivity of indigenous cattle — which comprise 80 per cent of the country’s total cattle population — under the Rashtriya Gokul Mission (RGM).
Under the mission, indigenous bovines are preserved and conserved, for which gokul grams are being set up, field performance is being recorded, and farmers/institutes involved in the scientific rearing are awarded. Two national kamdhenu breeding centres are being set up as centres of excellence for preservation and development of indigenous breeds in a scientific way. Indigenous germplasm is also been stored properly, he added. On the occasion of the World Milk day, the minister gave away the national kamdhenu award, initiated for the first time, to 12 breeding centres for outstanding work in conservation of indigenous cattle, while National Gopal Ratna award were given to 10 farmers. Meanwhile, Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal in a tweet said that milk is “truly white gold” for dairy farmers. According to her, the milk production in India is expected to touch 180 million tonnes by 2020.