Is the success of Animal Husbandry in India detrimental to Global Environment?

Pashu Sandesh, 01 November 2018

India over the years has seen a great turn around in its economics and Dairy Sector and Animal Husbandry as such has contributed greatly to the success story. Then why are we asking this question which is bound to ruffle some feathers.

The Success Story:

India is the largest producer of Milk in the World with an annual turnover of more than 150 Million tons of Milk and in coming years as the Government is pushing for the reforms in the Dairy sector, this figure is poised to get better and better. An ambitious plan of the present Government is to double the income of the Farmers by 2022 and to achieve that various schemes are launched such as Rashtriya Gokul Mission and others which are specifically aimed at the farmers through the reforms and strengthening of the Anima Husbandry Sector. Large amount of funds have been allocated for the purpose. Many State governments are distributing free and subsided animals to the poor farmers. Success of Milk Cooperatives in this regard is for everyone to see and admire.

India is also the largest producer and exporter of Beef in the world which may seem ironical in the first instance when at the centre we have a Government which has its ideology revolving around the Cow welfare and Cow protection. Beef export industry is a booming industry with a contribution of more than 30000 Crore Rupees Annually to the overall GDP of the country.

Then where is the problem?

If we talk about the Global Environment, then India is at the third position in the world in its contribution to the Green House Gases. Green houses gases are those which trap heat in the atmosphere and case Global Warming. Methane Gas in this regard is an example of Green House Gas. On an average a cattle releases 120 kg of Methane Gas in a year. One can imagine the overall contribution of the Methane Gas from the cattle all over the country which incidentally again is the highest in the world. 

Water is slowly becoming a necessary commodity and the misuse and overuse of water could lead to disastrous consequences. Although our country has been receiving near sufficient rainfall but the over use of the Ground water for industrial and Agriculture purposes has started to produce its negative impact. 

As per a raw estimate around 1020 litres of water is consumed to produce just one Litre of Milk. One can imagine the quantum of Water utilisation for the production of 150 million Tons of Milk!!! It takes approximately 15,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of beef; 8,000 litres for 1 kg of mutton; and 4,000 litres for 1 kg of chicken.

What we can do about it:

At the outset it cannot be suggested that we abandon our Animal Husbandry activities. India is an Agriculture based economy and the contribution of Animal Husbandry to this economy is tremendous. But the impact of this industry on the Global environment is also a stark reality which is needed to be addressed on an urgent basis. Need of the hour is the framing of the policies which stress on the sustainable technology use in the Dairy and Food Processing industries. Most importantly policy makers need to be aware of the problem and its long term impact not only on the country but on the whole world. Otherwise World will certainly ask the question , “Is the success of Animal Husbandry in India detrimental to Global Environment?