At COVID-19 times, India is looking towards the agriculture sector for its economic revival. This sector will be able to bring in some relief to the country, but there is a need to support this sector for it to get back its lost sheen. According to experts, who participated in a webinar titled ‘Animal Husbandry - Economics and Fallacies’, excessive dependency on agriculture leaving out its allied activities mainly animal husbandry will make Indian farmers impoverished.
The experts — Juan F Moreno, CEO, Sexing Technologies (BAIF); Arun Raste, Executive Director, NDDB; and KV Shaji, Deputy Managing Director, NABARD — were part of the panel that was moderated by RN Bhaskar, consulting editor. The webinar was organised by SIES and Free Press Journal in association with NCDEX Investor (Client) Protection Fund Trust, and East West Seed. The welcome address was made by Dr Vaneeta Raney, head BMM, SIES College of Arts, Science & Commerce.
At the webinar, Raste said, “Excessive dependency on agriculture leads to low income of people especially in a country like India, where people are dependent on agriculture.”
Adding to this, Shaji stated, “Around 85 per cent of small and marginal farmers own only 47 per cent of farmland. If the farmer has to become self-sufficient, then farming alone cannot help. This is where the role of animal husbandry comes into play.”
Raste stated that the share of agriculture in gross value added (GVA) is 17.2 per cent now. “It was 18.5 per cent about ten years ago.” This means about 50 per cent of the population is contributing only 17.2 per cent. He stated, “That means that you are making people poorer if they continue to remain dependent on agriculture.”
All these points towards the need to increase productivity in agriculture and its allied activities. Commenting on this, Moreno stated, “We bear the responsibility of feeding the 10 billion people that will be in this world. In order to accomplish the task, we have to look at increasing productivity. If we do not increase productivity, we will not be able to feed the world.” He stressed that this can only be achieved if agriculture takes advantage of the various technologies that are available to us.
While the productivity in agriculture in India has been more or less stagnant, the allied sectors have seen improved productivity. Raste stressed, “The share of livestock in agriculture is going up which includes dairy, poultry, fishery and others. It has gone up from 21 per cent a decade ago to around 29 per cent.”
He explained in economic terms of the total GVA of 4 per cent, the share of livestock has gone up to 5 per cent. Of that around 61 per cent is dairy, 21 per cent is meat, 6 per cent is dung and the remaining 12 per cent is honey, wool and others.
In the case of productivity among livestock, mainly bovine animals, Moreno stated that the greatest technology that humankind has seen is artificial insemination. In this process, the farmers are able to get access to high-yielding bovine animals, and thus improve their incomes.