Animal Husbandry

Dairy Farming in India: Meaning, Importance and Present Status

23 Sep 2023
Dairy Farming in India: Meaning, Importance and Present Status
India is primarily an agricultural economy, with more than 70% of the Indian population living in villages, where dairy farming has been playing a significant role in bringing social and economic transformation. It has created employment opportunities and has met the population's nutritional needs.

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Dairy farming is one of the most important parts of the Indian agricultural sector. It is a common practice which includes rearing cattle and buffaloes for milk production, which is further used to produce dairy products.

Dairy farming in India has been practised since ancient times. The dairy farming industry is increasing rapidly since the demand for milk and dairy products has increased. India has recently left China behind and become the most populated country in the world. Since most of the Indian population consumes dairy products regularly, the demand for dairy products has automatically increased in the past few years.

Milk production in India has seen a growth of 58% during the last nine years, from 2014-15 to 2022-23. Among India's top 10 milk-producing states, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh have secured the top three positions.

What is Dairy Farming?

Dairy farming is a part of the agriculture sector that involves the rearing of dairy cattle, such as cows and buffaloes, for long-term milk production. It is practised on a farm or at a dairy plant for the eventual sale of dairy products, such as curd, butter, and cheese. It is a form of cattle farming in India that involves various activities, including feeding and managing dairy animals, milking, and milk processing.

Dairy Industry in India

India has the world's largest dairy industry in terms of milk production.

  • It has seen remarkable growth in the past decade and is currently the top producer of milk and value-added milk products in the world.
  • The dairy industry in India is one of the largest and fastest-growing industries in the world.
  • The popular dairy products produced in India are Buttermilk, fresh cheese, fresh butter, butter oil, milk and cream in powder, ghee, curd, and many more.
  • Popular private companies such as Amul, Mother Dairy, Nestle, and Britannia are major dairy processing and marketing players.
  • Cooperative dairy societies have played a significant role in organising dairy farmers and offering them essential infrastructure, veterinary services and marketing support. The National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) is the most important that initiated the white revolution in the country.
  • The Indian government has introduced various government schemes for dairy farming to promote dairy business in the country.
  • A large amount of milk is produced in the country, primarily from indigenous cattle and buffaloes. The variety in cattle and buffalo breeds provides a regional variation in milk quality and production.

Importance of Dairy Farming in India

Dairy Farming is an important sector in the Indian agricultural industry. It is because of the following reasons:

  • It is a substantial source of livelihood and a secondary income source for lakhs of people, especially in rural areas.
  • The primary product of dairy farming is milk, which is consumed regularly and is an important part of most people's diets. It is a source of rich nutrients that help in children's growth and development.
  • The dairy sector contributes 5% of the Indian economy and directly supports crores of farmers in the country.
  • It is one of the primary mediums for women's empowerment in India. As estimated, around 70% of the work on dairy farms is done by women.

Present Status of Dairy Industry in India

  • In 2020-21, India produced 221.1 million tonnes of milkve, which is more than 50% of the total milk production of the USA and three times more than that of China.
  • In the financial year 2022-23, India's dairy product exports were 67,572.99 MT, which is worth INR 2,269.85 crores.
  • India is the largest consumer of milk and dairy products in the world. The milk availability per capita has reached 322 grams/day, higher than the world average of 293.7 grams/day.
  • According to data from 2022-23, Bangladesh, UAE, Saudi Arabia, USA, and Bhutan are the major export destinations of milk and dairy products worldwide.
  • Uttar Pradesh is the highest milk-producing state in India, contributing 15.7 per cent of the total milk production. The other states include Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh.

Challenges of Dairy Farming in India

The dairy sector in India faces several major challenges despite being one of the largest and fastest-growing segments of the country's agricultural economy. Some of the key challenges include:

Shortage of Feed

Each year, the reduced grazing land due to industrial growth leads to a severe lack of feed and fodder to meet the increasing demand. The lack of water and other sources for fodder preparation also results in the shortage of feed.

Hygiene Issues

Numerous cattle owners fail to provide their animals with the necessary protection. It leaves them exposed to adverse weather conditions. The cause of Mastitis is unsanitary conditions prevailing in cattle sheds and milking parlours.

Health Issues

Health issues among dairy animals, such as Mastitis and foot-and-mouth disease, can lead to production losses. The lack of Veterinary treatment facilities and artificial insemination technicians across remote regions results in inadequate animal healthcare. It is also due to the disproportionate ratio between the cattle population and veterinary hospitals.

Low Returns

Unlike 24 key agricultural commodities like rice and wheat, milk does not receive a Minimum Support Price (MSP). Additionally, dairy sector cooperatives are not the favoured option for small-scale or landless farmers. These cooperatives employ a pricing policy based on fat content, which typically results in 20 to 30% lower prices than those in the open market.

Published By
Arpit Srivastava

Frequently Asked Questions on Dairy Farming in India: Meaning, Importance and Present Status

1. What is dairy farming in India?

Dairy farming involves rearing dairy cattle, such as cows and buffaloes, for long-term milk production.

Yes, dairy farming is profitable in India.

Gir, Red Sindhi, and Sahiwal cow breeds are best for dairy farming in India.

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