Govt to launch Rs 17,000 cr plan to increase milk production

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New Delhi, Sep 13 (UNI) The Central Government has decided to launch a Rs 17,000 crore national dairy plan to increase milk production to 160-180 million tonnes from the present 100 million tonnes over the next 15 years.

The announcement was made by Agriculture and Food Minister Sharad Pawar at a function here today.

The government is exploring the possibility of tapping World Bank funds to provide cheaper loans to dairy farmers to realise the target of the plan which, he said, would focus on organised marketing, breed improvement and fortification of cattle feed.

In his inaugural at the conference of state ministers of animal husbandry and dairy development, Mr Pawar urged them to substantially increase spending on the animal husbandry and dairy sector for fast growth and to rid this sector of its ills.

He said though big funds are available under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna and Rural Infrastructure Development Fund, states have not been using these funds.

This, he added, was resulting in poor quality of breeds, animal diseases and non-availability of fodder. In 2007-08, only 13 per cent of the RKVY funds were utilised for animal husbandry and dairying sector, while a meagre 0.48 per cent of RIDF funds used by states, he said.

Even under the Prime Minister's relief package (to suicide prone states), only Rs 124.66 crore out of Rs 510.79 crore have been used for animal husbandry sector, he added.

Mr Pawar said agriculture sector can grow by four per cent per year in the 11th plan only if the animal sector grows at six to eight per cent, adding this would be possible only when investment in this sector is increased substantially.

Contribution of livestock to India's total GDP is currently 5.3 per cent and to agriculture GDP it was 23.8 per cent in 2002-2003.

He lamented on poor functioning of veterinary infrastructure, prevalence of major cattle diseases such as the foot and mouth, poor availability of fodder and feed, and poor quality of products being supplied to consumers.

Mr Pawar urged the state ministers to finalise the National Livestock Policy in today's conference to bring about holistic development of the entire animal husbandry sector, pointing out that the policy draft is under discussion for more than four years. UNI SAA SBA BD1845

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