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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) 

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Indian Railways suffers as private players fail to meet wagon delivery targets

Wagon manufacturers are the mainstay of the railways as 90 per cent of its requirement is met by the private sector. Till October 1, Indian Railways has received only 2,717 of the 12,311 wagons that had been ordered from 10 major players in April.

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New Delhi, Oct 21 : A working capital crunch, coupled with lack of critical components, has slowed down the delivery schedule of railway wagons, affecting their availability with the transporter, a senior official said.

“Wagon manufacturers are the mainstay of the railways as 90 per cent of its requirement is met by the private sector. Till October 1, Indian Railways has received only 2,717 of the 12,311 wagons that had been ordered from 10 major players in April,” the Railways official told IANS.

Thus, the manufacturers are expected to produce 9,594 wagons, each of which costs Rs 25 lakhs, in the next five months, by March 2019, which seems to be a tall order, industry stakeholders said.

Expressing serious concern over the slow pace of delivery, the Railways has asked wagon manufacturers to improve the supply or face a penalty of two per cent of the value of the order as laid down in the contract, the official said.

According to industry sources, there are issues like lack of working capital and non-availability of critical components like bogeys, couplers, dropgear and airbrake systems from Research Designs & Standards Organisation (RDSO)-approved vendors.

While the price of steel has gone up around 20 per cent to 25 per cent in the recent past, there are also Goods and Services Tax (GST) issues.

Five per cent GST is applicable on wagons, while the GST on raw materials required for wagon productions is 18 per cent.

There are plans to approach the Finance Ministry to resolve the GST issue, industry sources said.

Meanwhile, the Railways has decided to opt for the reverse auction method to decide on its future tender for procurement of 21,758 wagons at an estimated cost of Rs 5,600 crore — the largest such order for the national transporter.

The order includes nine types of wagons, including covered, flat, open and brake vans to be supplied by the successful bidders in the next two years.

(Arun Kumar Das can be contacted at [email protected] )

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A library run by industrial workers means world of change for children

Messages from martyrs like Bhagat Singh, Safdar Hashmi and others adorn the walls of the library. “Behtar zindagi ka raasta behtar kitaabon se hokar jaata hai” (The road to a better life passes through good books) — a board outside the room says.

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A movie screening in the library

Ludhiana (Punjab), Oct 21 : At first look, it is just another small room with one wall almost crumbling. But this 25-square yard space means the world for children of factory workers and labourers in Punjab’s industrial hub Ludhiana.

Without any grant or support from corporates or the government, this education endeavour by workers and daily-wage earners living in the Rajiv Gandhi colony area of Jamalpur in Ludhiana’s Focal Point industrial area, is making a sea of difference to the lives of children who come here every single day with their working parents.

The Shaheed Bhagat Singh Pustakalaya has no fancy address, no high-profile CSR support and no big-time NGO dedicating its resources. Yet, it is on a mission — to create a small education revolution by touching the lives of the many children coming here to study.

Messages from martyrs like Bhagat Singh, Safdar Hashmi and others adorn the walls of the library. “Behtar zindagi ka raasta behtar kitaabon se hokar jaata hai” (The road to a better life passes through good books) — a board outside the room says.

“We established this library in April this year. It is entirely an effort of workers and labourers of the industrial units in Ludhiana, who live in the vicinity of the LIG (low income group) flats and Rajiv Gandhi colony,” Lakhwinder Singh, the man behind the mission to guide the workers’ children to a better future, told IANS here.

The library has been set up under the aegis of the Karkhana Mazdoor Union by collecting funds from the workers. Contributions ranged from Rs 100 to Rs 5,000. Most workers themselves earn less than Rs 10,000 per month.

Lakhwinder, 33, who himself has done an advanced diploma in dye and mould making from a central institute in Chandigarh and has been living in Ludhiana since 2006, is the main force behind the library project. He is married but has no children yet.

“We began everything on a small scale. We have got no funding from the government or any corporate. The children coming here are not being forced to do so. They come here on their own and are liking the concept of teaching here,” he pointed out.

Ludhiana, one of the largest industrial hubs in Asia, with a population of 3.5 million people, is known for its bicycle industry, textile units, auto-parts manufacturing and scores of other businesses. A majority of the workforce here is that of migrant workers from other states, especially Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, who have been living here for decades.

The library gets active from 4 pm to 7 pm every day when the children come here to get an education. Krishan Kumar, a teaching volunteer, uses hands-on concepts, including showing films, to create awareness and impart education. The library has over 500 books in Hindi and Punjabi stacked on iron shelves.

“We make a lot of friends at the library. It is like a family,” Arjun, 12, a student of class VI in a government school, said.

Lakhwinder pointed out that the parents of a majority of the children who come to the library have themselves not studied beyond Class VIII or are illiterate, but do not want their children to suffer the same fate.

“The room can accommodate over 30 children. At times, we have to put a stop on the numbers as the room cannot accommodate more children,” Lakhwinder pointed out.

For an annual charge of only Rs 50, the children are provided a library card and are allowed to take two books home at one time. The fee is charged so as to make the children responsible for the books they take.

“The children like to come here. They are allowed to express themselves freely even when they are being imparted education,” he said.

The children coming here are enthusiastic about what they are doing here.

“It’s quite nice and refreshing to come here. Learning here is a lot of fun,” Khushi, 13, a student of Class VII, said.

In its own modest way, this library is making a definitive change in the lives of the young ones.

(The weekly feature series is part of a positive-journalism project of IANS and the Frank Islam Foundation. Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at [email protected] )

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LinkedIn partners with Oracle to help HR teams attract right talent

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New Delhi, Oct 17: Cloud major Oracle on Wednesday said it entered into a partnership with professional networking platform LinkedIn to help HR teams attract, engage and retain employees.

A series of new integrations between Oracle’s Human Capital Management Cloud (Oracle HCM Cloud) and Taleo Enterprise Edition, and LinkedIn, will help HR teams to grow their talent pool and increase career development opportunities, Oracle said.

“The world of work is rapidly changing, and this is creating new opportunities and challenges for talent leaders,” Scott Roberts, Vice President of Business Development, LinkedIn, said in a statement.

“We are excited to be working with Oracle to create better solutions to make hiring and developing talent as seamless and effective as possible,” Roberts added.

The new integrations enable HR teams to take a holistic view of their talent’s experience, skills and career aspirations in order to achieve a meaningful alignment between each employee’s job responsibilities and an organisation’s overall business objectives.

They improve the candidate experience by enabling them to apply for a job via Oracle Recruiting Cloud or Taleo Enterprise Edition and identify and contact (via InMail) their LinkedIn connections who can best refer them for that job.

“The rapidly changing global talent market is forcing organisations across industries to rethink how they attract, engage and retain employees,” said Nagaraj Nadendla, Group Vice President, Product Development, Oracle.

IANS

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