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Allied Agriculture: To go from subsistence to commercial

Expecting a lower GST rate for dairy sector, Devendra Chaudhry, Secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, says, in an interaction with SMART AGRIPOST, there is a need to shift the allied agricultural activities from subsistence to commercial to increase income of farmers. Excerpts:

 Q. What are the important decisions taken by your department during 2016?

Ans.  Five important decisions have been taken in 2016. Firstly, it has been decided to give a big boost to increase the productivity of the indigenous cows from the current of about 1.2 litres per day to at least 5 litres per day. The Rashtriya Gokul Mission (RGM) has been launched to conserve and develop indigenous bovine breeds with an allocation of Rs 582 crores. Already, Rs. 215.64 crores has been released to 27 States. Then, secondly, a Rs. 850 crores National Mission on Bovine Productivity has been launched with four key components namely, (i) Unique Identification ID Code of 12 digit number for each of the 87 million in-milk cow and buffalo along with a Health Card – Nakul Swasthya Patra to each in-milk cow, (ii) A unified integrated portal for trading of high genetic merit germplasm such as bull, calf, embryo and semen doses.  More than 9000 high genetic merit animals and 4.7crores doses of semen have been registered for saleon the portal. It is the first of its kind in the world. The other components comprise setting up of a National Bovine Genomic Centre for immediate identification of high genetic merit cow or bull of indigenous breed, Advanced Breeding Technologies for reducing time for production of high quality bulls from 7 years to just 1 year.

Thirdly, a Blue Revolution has been launched to cap the huge potential of fisheries in the country.The 31.5 lakh hectares of reservoirs, 14 lakh hectares of brackish water and 7 lakh hectares of wet lands are proposed to be capped for intensive aqua culture and raise the production of fish from 10 million tonnes to 15 million tonnes by 2019-20 to benefit more than 1.4 crore farmers

Finally, it has been decided to launch innovative projects for breed upgradation of goat and sheep by three times to benefit about 3 crore  farmers along with transforming low input low output backyard poultry to commercially viable poultry.

Q. What are you targeting to achieve in 2017?

Ans. Targets have been set for each of the sectors. Also, synergies within schemes and with other Departments will also be tapped as a basic strategy. The government has targeted to increase milk production from 155 Million Tonnes (MT) to 242 MT by 2021-22. Then, we will ensure 100 per cent artificial insemination coverage which is currently 26% with higher assured conception rate and 100 per cent Foot and Mouth Disease vaccination coverage. Apart from this, we plan to cover all 3.2 lac milk potential villages through Village Bulk procurement Infrastructure along with modernisation of Cooperative plants. Technology is also going to be deployed to ensure farmer friendly services for example, the mobile app ‘Mera Pashudhan’ to resolve all problems monitoring and resolution. In order to popularise pure milk and its safe consumption, we have planned to introduce MILKMARK across the country.

A novel supply infrastructure is being planned to feed the metros and big cities by milk and other dairy, egg, fish, meat supplies from the hinterland areas of contiguous states, for example, meeting the milk supply requirements of Delhi from the NCR states.

Likewise we have prepared a five year action plan for seed hatcheries and timely seed stocking to increase productivity of aqua culture by 3 to 4 times.  We will encourage modern technologies like cage culture and re-circulatory culture through Public Private Partnership (PPP) and also increase cold chain chilling capacity to 7.5 Lac tonnes to check 20% to 30% of spoilage. We are looking for global tie ups with countries like Norway, Vietnam and Bangladesh for advanced aqua culture technologies.

We are now aiming at replicating the dairy success model in small livestock and poultry also. We target to increase productivity of small livestock by Artificial Insemination and High Genetic Merit breeding and also to develop clusters in and around the hinterlands of big cities to supply fresh and quality fish, meat and eggs.

These initiatives will boost allied activities in agriculture sector and ensure more income to farmers.

Q. What would be the impact of GST on dairy and fishery sectors?

Ans. We expect the CST to have a positive impact on dairy and fishery sectors. We hope liberalized tax regime will continue for dairy products even after GST.  Ministry has proposed to create a separate group of commodities of dairy products to be included under GST and to treat dairy sector as part of agriculture. So that dairy sector can get tax exemptions or concessional tax rates.

At present cattle feed does not have any duty. Ministry has recommended the same under GST. Some Milk products like flavoured milk etc. have duty up to 15%, we have recommended to lower it. We have also requested to exempt machines used in dairying activities like Milking machine under GST regime.