Indians love milk. The Hindu reverence of cattle — especially of the cow — is well known. Census statistics show that almost 80 percent of the 1.2 billion Indian population is Hindu. Many Hindus worship the cow and abstain from consuming beef and it may come as a shock that India has been the second-largest exporter of beef in the world. India’s beef industry claims much of its beef comes from buffaloes, an assertion disputed by right-wing parties, ethnic organizations, and animal rights. Although cow slaughter is indeed prohibited by most Indian states, and cow meat exports are counter to the constitution, the recognition of the cow’s sacredness is not universal across India, and cow meat may slip into the buffalo beef market.
Fresh Cow Milk and its derivatives are an integral part of our diets, ceremonies, and festivals. Like when a West Bengal minister recently claimed cow’s milk contains traces of gold, Milk can also stir up the occasional political controversy. He may also have spoken metaphorically, as India’s growing dairy industry, its global milk production leadership (India has been the world’s top milk producer since 1998) and its increasing consumption makes it an equally valuable resource.
A large part of the credit for this goes to Dr. Verghese Kurien, the ‘White Revolution’ of India’s Father, and the man credited in rural India for revolutionizing dairy farming and milk cooperatives. India is celebrating National Milk Day on November 26, 2019, the 98th anniversary of Dr. Kurien’s birth. Let’s look at five facts about the Indian dairy industry, to mark the occasion.
India’s focus on milk production is reflected in its livestock profile:
India has 40 indigenous cattle breeds, such as the Gir, Sahiwal and Red Sindhi, as well as 13 native breeds of buffalo, according to the National Dairy Development Board. Government efforts to boost best milk in Delhi have become apparent in the population profile of these animals in recent years. The cattle and buffalo population has been calculated at over 300 million according to the 2019 national livestock census.
After the last 2012 census, this figure hasn’t changed substantially. According to the latest study, however, there is a rise in the number of female animals (cows and buffalos) followed by an even larger drop in the number of the corresponding male populations. It has also increased the number of native and crossbred animals (which provide more milk.
India Last year produced 22% of global milk output:
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), India produced 186 million tons of milk in 2018, which was 22 percent of the total global milk production of 843 million tons that year. Milk output in India grew 5 percent over 2017 levels, while in the European Union and the US it was only about 1 percent. The last five decades saw the tide turn for India, which in 1970 accounted for only 5 percent of the world’s milk production. It is expected that this growth will continue in the coming years; by 2022, the Niti Aayog predicts India will generate 300 million tons of milk.
Also, the national per capita milk availability rose from 225 grams per day in 2001-02 to 375 gm/day in 2017-18, though this varies widely by region. Increased consumption of online milk Dwarka and milk products, typically protein-rich, is also associated with improved incomes and nutritional access in developing countries such as ours.
Adulteration is not a major problem, says India’s Food Regulator:
In 2018, India’s Food Health and Standards Authority (FSSAI) performed a first-ever systematic survey to check the consistency and health of milk, taking into account regional concerns regarding combining milk products with hazardous chemicals. The 2018 National Milk Health and Consistency Survey showed that almost 93 percent of the milk samples examined were safe for human consumption.
For the 6,432 total milk samples tested, roughly 456 failed the examination; of these 456, only 12 samples were intentionally adulterated with the use of adulterants such as hydrogen peroxide, detergent, or urea. In 2018, India’s Food Health and Standards Authority (FSSAI) performed a first-ever systematic survey to check the consistency and health of milk, taking into account regional concerns regarding combining milk products with hazardous chemicals.
The dairy industry is both an economic engine and a means of subsistence. India’s Union Agriculture Minister said earlier this year that nearly 80 million rural households are engaged in milk production, with a high proportion comprising landless, medium, and marginal farmers.
Officials say the average annual milk production per cow has risen 35 percent over the last 10 years, to 1700 kg in 2018-19, and attempts are being made to further boost this. Nonetheless, in a study last year, the Niti Aayog cautioned that drought and floods could hit milk animal productivity by affecting fodder and water availability.