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With pastures shrinking, India may be importing milk by 2021

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Bengaluru, February 24: India may have to import milk in four years, if it cannot increase fodder supply for its 299 million cattle, as rising pressure on land reduces pastures nationwide.

Spurred by rising incomes, a growing population and changing food preferences, the demand for milk and milk products will grow to at least 210 million tonnes by 2021-22, a rise of 36 per cent over five years, according to government estimates. To meet this demand, production must grow by 5.5 per cent per annum, according to the State of India’s Livelihood (SOIL) report. In 2014-15 and 2015-16, milk production grew at 6.2 per cent and 6.3 per cent, respectively.

To boost milk yield, India would need to generate 1,764 million tonnes of fodder by 2020, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of government data. But existing sources can only manage about 900 million tonnes of fodder — a shortage of 49 per cent.

Demand for private consumption has risen from five per cent per annum in the period 1998-2005 to 8.5 per cent per annum between 2005 and 2012, according to an Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, report.

This demand and supply gap has pushed up milk prices by an average of 16 per cent per annum, according to the 2015 SOIL report.

In the decade to 2015, milk production went up 59 per cent from 92 million tonnes to 146 million tonnes in 2015. But fodder shortages may knock India off its position as the world’s top milk producer (it contributes nearly 17 per cent of global production).

The milk productivity of India’s livestock is less than half (48 per cent) of the global average: 987 kg per lactation compared to the global average of 2,038 kg per lactation.

The availability and quality of fodder has a direct bearing on the quantity and quality of milk productivity, the data show. All the three states that topped milk productivity in terms of gram per day — Rajasthan (704), Haryana (877) and Punjab (1,032) — had earmarked more than 10 per cent of their cultivable land for pastures, according to the 2015 SOIL report. The national average is 337.

Currently, all three types of fodder are in short supply — green (63 per cent), dry (24 per cent) and concentrates (76 per cent). Only four per cent of total cultivable land in India is used for fodder production, a proportion that has remained stagnant for the last four decades.

Considering the demand for milk, land under fodder production needs to be doubled, according to a December 2016 report of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture.

Shortages are forcing states to now source fodder from elsewhere. “The quality of fodder is a concern. We are now looking to source fodder from Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh),” said Sudhir Mishra, who runs a dairy farm in Ranchi (Jharkhand).

But major portions of grazing lands have either been degraded or encroached upon, according to the Parliamentary Committee report.

However, the availability of crop residues, the largest single source of fodder, has been impacted by increasing pressure on land and the replacement of traditional cereal crops, especially coarse ones. Crop residue includes coarse and fine straws, leguminous and pulses straws.

Given the importance of food and cash crops, it is very unlikely that the area under fodder cultivation will increase substantially, the parliamentary committee report said.

“If India fails to achieve substantial production growth, the country would need to resort to significant imports from the world market which has the potential to cause prices to spurt since India is a large consumer,” said 2015 SOIL report

To cut costs, easy access to fodder is important for small farmers

Feed cost constitutes about 60-70 per cent of operating expenses on dairy farms. Nearly 70 per cent of India’s milk production comes from small and marginal farmers, who depend on homegrown fodder. Unlike big operators like Mishra, they cannot afford to buy fodder from other states.

Take the case of Dundappa Patil, a 10th-class pass from Belagavi in North Karnataka, who took a loan of Rs 35,000 for dairy farming eight years ago.

The process of applying and getting a loan for the enterprise was simple and quick because Patil was covered by a scheme for unemployed youth in Karnataka. He went through a crash course in dairy farming in Belagavi and in less than a month, set up business with four buffalo.

Patil’s target was to sell 20 litres of milk every day to a local cooperative society. But the yield per buffalo on Patil’s farm was less than 2 litres a day; his buffalo produced less than half the milk he hoped they would.

“I realised that just buying a good buffalo was not enough, quality and quantity of fodder too had to be good,” he said. “You have to be ready to spend a lot of time and money on sourcing fodder.”

Patil said he and other villagers were using a common pasture on a hill 5 km from the village. “But that is seasonal and not enough for the all the village cattle,” he said.

So, he tried buying the fodder, but then the business did not look viable.

The contribution of livestock to the incomes of landless and small farmers ranges between 20-50 per cent, and the poorer the family, the greater the potential of dairy farming’s contribution to livelihood, according to the SOIL report.

Unlike agriculture, which tends to be seasonal, dairy farming provides returns through the year. It can minimise the risks agricultural households face when they run short of cash.

In Belagavi, that scenario did not work for Patil because he could not overcome the fodder shortage — an issue India must address if it is to be self-sufficient in milk and dairy farming is to succeed.

Eventually, after a year, Patil sold the buffalo and repaid half the loan. The bank waived the rest after failing to recover it. Today, he is a construction worker in Belagavi city.

By Gangadhar S. Patil (IANS, Indiaspend.org) 

Analysis

Actual sugarcane FRP hike is Rs 6, not 20: Agri activists

The government has approved a premium of Rs 2.75 per quintal for each 0.1 per cent increase in the recovery over and above 10 per cent.

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New Delhi, July 18 (IANS) The government’s decision on Wednesday to increase the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) for sugarcane for 2018-19 (October-September) season by Rs 20 to Rs 275 for a quintal comes with a rider that the new rate will be applicable only when the recovery rate is 10 per cent.

The recovery rate — of sugar from sugarcane — was 9.5 per cent when the government had fixed the FRP of Rs 255 for a quintal in 2017-18.

If the recovery rate of 9.5 per cent is considered for 2018-19, the farmers will get only Rs 261.25, which is a hike of roughly Rs 6.25, on year-on-year basis.

According to Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, 295 mills of the total 550-odd mills in the country have reported recovery rate of over 10 per cent.

“Earlier, the recovery rate was 9.5 per cent. But it is increasing now. There are 295 mills which have reported over 10 per cent recovery rate, 82 have between 9.5 and 10 per cent, while there are only 127 mills that have below 10 per cent recovery rate. As the majority is of 10 per cent, we have gone with it (while fixing the FRP),” Paswan told reporters here.

The average national recovery rate is 10.51 per cent, while it is 10.20 per cent and 11.47 per cent in major sugar producing states of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, respectively, he said.

However, agriculture activists called the hike in the FRP “shameful”, saying the actual hike would be below 3 per cent.

“It’s like peanuts. It is not even 3 per cent since expenses on electricity, labour and fertlizer have gone up significantly. The hike should have been done rationally,” said V.M. Singh, president of Rashtriya Kisan Majdoor Party.

He said the remuneration at 10 per cent recovery rate in 2017-18 was Rs 268, which means the actual hike is only of Rs 7 this year.

There are about five crore sugarcane farmers in the country and about five lakh workers are directly employed in sugar mills.

The total remittance to sugarcane farmers by the millers would be over Rs 83,000 crore.

The government has approved a premium of Rs 2.75 per quintal for each 0.1 per cent increase in the recovery over and above 10 per cent.

According to the government, the production cost of sugarcane for 2018-19 is pegged at Rs 155 per quintal, so the FRP of Rs 275 per quintal would provide a return of 77.42 per cent.

The FRP is determined on the basis of recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).

Paswan said there will not be any reduction in case recovery rate goes below 9.5 per cent and farmers will get Rs 261.25 per quintal.

As per the Food Ministry’s figures, the cane arrears, which stood at Rs 14,538 crore at FRP (Rs 23,232 crore at state advisory price – SAP) on May 21, has come down to Rs 9,319 crore (Rs 17,824 at SAP) following the various steps taken by the government in May including the Rs 7,000-crore package.

“Our top priority is farmers. To ensure that millers can pay farmers their dues, we give them such facilities,” Paswan said.

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Chidambaram slams government over ‘economic mismanagement’

“After 5-month-high inflation and 7-month-low industrial growth comes the news of soaring trade deficit.”

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New Delhi, July 14 : Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram on Friday slammed the government over its poor management of economy, saying inflation is at five-month high, industrial growth at five-month low and the trade deficit has soared.

Chidambaram, a former Finance Minister, said in tweets that exports were lower in June compared to May and the imports higher.

He said despite the higher trade deficit, the government would continue to say that all is well.

“After 5-month-high inflation and 7-month-low industrial growth comes the news of soaring trade deficit.”

“June exports lower than May. June imports higher than May. June trade deficit higher by $2 billion. But the government will say all is well,” he said.

Chidambaram said the Congress leaders had estimated that demonetisation would lead to a cut in growth rate by 1.5 per cent and the outgoing Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian has said that purging high currency notes in November 2016 led to a definite slowing down of economy.

The official data showed on Thursday that retail inflation in India touched the 5 per cent-mark in June, compared to 4.87 per cent in May, even as industrial output in May grew at 3.2 per cent compared to the same month last year but declined as compared to rise of 4.9 per cent in April mainly on account of a decline in manufacturing.

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Online hiring for government jobs fell 20% in June: Report

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New Delhi, July 5: Online recruitment activity for government services, including public sector enterprises and defence sector, declined by 20 per cent in June on a year-on-year basis, a monster.com report said here on Thursday.

Overall online recruitment in June 2018 fell by three per cent on a year-on-year basis and eight per cent compared with May 2018, the Monster Employment Index for June 2018 said.

“Printing and packaging sector witnessed the steepest decline — 27 per cent year-on-year basis and 15 per cent month-on-month basis,” the report said.

In the agriculture-based industries, online hiring declined by 19 per cent in June 2018, compared with June 2017.

However, the production and manufacturing segment registered a 49 per cent rise in online recruitment. Home appliances segment registered a 27 per cent fall.

“Production and manufacturing (up 49 per cent) led all monitored industry sectors by the way of long-term growth for the third month in succession,” the report said.

IANS

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