Pawar asks States to hike spending on animal husbandry

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New Delhi, Sep 13 (UNI) Agriculture and Food Minister Sharad Pawar today asked State governments to substantially increase spending on the animal husbandry and dairy sector for fast growth and to rid this sector of its ills.

Inaugurating the Conference of State Ministers of Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development here, Mr Pawar said though big funds are available under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna and the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) fund of NABARD, State governments have not been using these funds for this sector, resulting in many problems such as poor quality of breeds, animal diseases and non-availability of fodder.

Elaborating further, he said out of the RKVY funds allocated in 2007-08, only 13 per cent has gone to this sector, and out of the RIDF funds, a meagre 0.48 per cent is used by States for animal husbandry and dairying.

Even under the Prime Minister's relief package (to suicide prone States), only Rs 124.66 crore have so far been utilised by States out of Rs 510.79 crore allocated for animal husbandry sector.

Though milk, meat and egg production has grown manifold since independence, there is scope for increasing production from this sector further.

The overall agriculture sector can grow by four per cent per year in the Eleventh Plan only if the animal sector grows ' at six per cent to eight per cent, and ''this would be possible only when the investment in this sector is increased substantially,'' Mr Pawar added.

Speaking about the ills, Mr Pawar said the animal husbandry sector is suffering from, the flagged poor functioning of the veterinary infrastructure, prevalence of major diseases such as the foot and mouth disease of cattle, poor availability of fodder and feed, and poor quality of products being supplied to consumers.

The Minister informed that the government is working on a comprehensive plan to increase milk production over the next 15 years to reach a level of 160-180 million tonnes from the present about 100 MT.

Under this new initiative, a National Dairy Plan is being envisaged with an investment of more than Rs 17,000 crore.

The government is exploring the possibility of tapping World Bank funds so as to provide cheaper loans. The Plan would focus on many areas such as organised marketing, breed improvement and fortification of cattle feed.

He called upon the State Ministers to try to finalise the National Livestock Policy in today's Conference. The draft Policy is under discussion for more than four years. The Policy would bring about holistic development of the entire animal husbandry sector, he felt.

Planning Commission Member Abhijit Sen highlighted the fact that this sector is relatively more efficient than other areas of agriculture, and hence proper investments here would result in fast overall growth in the farming sector.

Dr Pradeep Kumar, Secretary (Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries), stressed on utilisation of funds, need for an effective extension machinery to propagate new technologies among farmers, and improving quality of animal products.

Besides bringing better returns to the producers, improvement in the quality of products would increase exports in a big way, Dr Kumar said.

Secretary (DARE) and DG (ICAR), Dr Mangla Rai informed that a network project has been started by ICAR to prepare this sector for facing the threat posed by global warming.

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