Dr Mir Nadeem
Animal husbandry sector has a vast potential in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir with favorable agro-climatic conditions and other natural endowments including rich alpine pastures. The sector has a pivotal role in agro based economy of the UT in which Livestock sector contributes 4.11% of national GDP and 25.6% of total Agricultural GDP. As per the 20th livestock census, J&K has 8.3 million animals and 7.7 million poultry, small ruminants comprising 3.2 million sheep and 1.77 million goats also contribute significantly to the total livestock population of the Union Territory. Animal husbandry sector plays an important role in income generation, employment, food and social security especially for the people living in rural areas and those associated with farming. Keeping in view the scope of the animal husbandry sector in upliftmentof the farming community, the Government of India from time to time has come up with various centrally sponsored schemes to boost the sector. One such recent initiative announced by the Union Government is setting up of Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) amounting to Rs 15000 crore. This scheme provides an interest subsidy to promote investment by private players and MSMEs in dairy, meat processing and animal feed plants; a move which is expected to create 35 lakh jobs. The fund is part of the Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package announced in May this year to help people affected by the lockdown due to COVID 19. The Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) was approved in the Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24th June,2020. The government had earlier approved the Dairy Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF) worth Rs 10,000 crore for incentivizing investment by the cooperative sector for development of dairy infrastructure. The AHIDF would promote infrastructure investments in dairy, meat processing and animal feed plants in the UT of J&K. Farmer producer organizations (FPOs), MSMEs, Section 8 companies, private companies and individual entrepreneurs would be eligible to benefit from the fund.
Feed is the foundation of the livestock production and feed alone costs around 70% of the cost of production. As per an estimate, the UT of Jammu and Kashmir is 27.31% deficit in dry fodder, 67% deficit in green fodder and 85% deficit in concentrates as a result animals are not able to express their genetic potential to full extent. AHIDF will promote the establishment of animal feed plants to address the issue of feed scarcity as a part of MSMED programme.
J&K animal husbandry sector is focusing on the genetic upgradationprogrammes for both large and small animals to improve the production performanceof the animals. To achieve this, in large animals sector, artificial insemination technique is being used. In sheep husbandry sector, recently 300 merino male sheep were purchased from Australiaas a part of cross breeding programmes. With AHIDF initiative, animal husbandry sector will grow at reasonable rate through faster implementation of these cross breeding programmes.
AHIDF scheme will also help in introduction and implementationof new technologies like Semen sexing, Embryo transfer technology as breed upgradation programmes. Other key areas of sector include Vaccine production, animal health cover, Feed and fodder development.
In order to create employment opportunities and to provide remunerative prices to the livestock owners for their produce, Union Government is desirous to strengthen the Milk cooperatives in Jammu & Kashmir. Infrastructure development for cattle feed manufacturing, milk procurement; processing and marketing shall encourage Dairying through cooperatives.
The department has focused on development of cattle, poultry, equines and fodder production with main emphasis on increasing milk, egg, poultry meat production and creating employment opportunities. AHIDF will play a vital role in achieving these objectives effectively.
Livestock has the potential to improve agricultural income. The government, therefore, encourages the investments in agriculture and its allied areas such as dairy farming, poultry farming, sheep farming, and quality fodder production to strengthen the economy by increasing income and employment of the people and attracting private investments. Keeping this in mind the Union Government for the first time will give 3 and 4 per cent interest subvention to eligible beneficiaries from non-aspirational districts and aspirational districts respectively for setting up of processing infrastructure for dairy, poultry and meat.
J&K is producing 70 lakh liters of milk per day with per capita milk availability of 401 grams/day which is higher than the national average. Dairying has become an important secondary source of income for millions of rural families and has assumed the most important role in providing employment and income generating opportunities particularly for marginal and women farmers. Most of the milk is produced by animals reared by small, marginal farmers and landless laborers. Government of India is making efforts for strengthening infrastructure for production of quality milk, procurement, processing and marketing of milk and milk products through various Dairy Development Schemes which include National Programme for Dairy Development(NPDD), National Dairy Plan (Phase-I), Dairy Entrepreneurship Development Scheme(DEDS), Support to Dairy Cooperatives, Dairy Processing and Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF).AHIDF package will aid in faster implementation of these ongoing schemes. In order to boost milk production further, UT administration with the help of Union Government has recently sanctioned the implementation of Dairy Cooperative scheme for Dairy Cooperative Societies in the Union Territory of J&K with the support of National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC). The Scheme endeavors to boost milk production in J&K through empowerment of Dairy Cooperative Societies with easy financial assistance for production, processing and marketing including purchase of animals, rearing, augmenting their capacities, health care, development of infrastructure for milk processing, other by products and creation of infrastructure to undertake marketing activities.
Government is also focusing on Livestock entrepreneurship which requires support services including livestock-related technical skills and science-based information; and policy/strategies that engage the potential roles of all stakeholders (academic institutions, Micro and small enterprises agency, urban agriculture and Ministry of Agriculture offices and other relevant governmental and Non-governmental organizations and private sectors) to make it as a viable career option in the emerging interest of educated unemployed youth and meet the growing demand of livestock products/commodity which in turn which generate profit and strengthen the economy.
With AHIDF packages, more and more training/awareness camps will be conducted to develop the skill and create awareness among the people regarding different livestock related schemes, scientific ways of rearing and management of livestock, new technological interventions and other regarding other important aspects which will in turn help in economic upliftment of the people who are directly or indirectly associated with the sector.
Government of India has come up with a historic decision of AHIDF which will go a long way providing a much needed boost to animal husbandry sector and upliftment of the farming community.
Dr Mir Nadeem