Monday, November 30, 2009: 07:49:49 PM

Food processing – Trend

Livestock sector boosting India’s economy

Despite the financial crises, hike in commodity prices, animal diseases as well as other deterrents, the livestock sector continue to contribute significantly to the country

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The livestock sector has been growing rapidly as compared to crop production. This growth can be attributed to the increasing number of animals, thereby leading to high productivity.


In the recent years, the livestock sector has been a significant contributor to the country’s economy. Therefore, it is important that the growth in the livestock sector is in tandem with consumer demand. If there is an increase in the former or decrease in the latter, the economic growth is likely to be affected to a large extent. According to Vijay Mundra, manager of Artic Exporters, a small-sized livestock export company in Chandigarh, “It is heartening to note that despite the global financial slump and rise in commodity prices and outbreak of animal diseases such as swine flu, bird flu and mad cow disease, the livestock sector has remained unaffected due to the growth in the global feed market.”

Significance of the livestock sector


The livestock sector plays a key role in the food processing industry. It fulfils the high demand for proteins in food products, thereby adding to the nutritional value to food products. As a result, there has been a phenomenal growth in the Indian livestock, poultry and aqua feed industry, both in terms of production and consumption.


“Animal feed provides three major groups of substances, which includes carbohydrates, oils and proteins along with vitamins and minerals in a balanced amount. This helps to improve the quality of livestock and in turn leads to higher production. Besides, it protects cattle from various contagious diseases,” says Bimal Guha, manager of Alpha Private Limited, a small-sized export company in Mumbai. 


India: A global livestock contributor


The Indian livestock sector accounts for a large share of the livestock resources in the global market. India boasts of having one of the largest livestock populations in the world. With its vast resources, which include livestock as well as poultry, India contributes about 500 million tonnes (mt) of livestock with buffalo, goat and sheep ranking as first, second and third, respectively, to the global market. The country’s milk production in the year 2008 stood at about 104 mt, which was the highest in the world. The sector has also contributed other food products to the global market such as 50 million eggs, 45 million kg of wool and 2.3 mt of meat.

Issues confronting the livestock sector


Although mostly there is abundance of animal feed, there are times when feed availability is low, thereby leading to soaring prices. This particularly affects the supply of protein meals due to low production of oilseeds. It has been observed that the demand for protein meal is more than 40 mt, but the supply is less than half of the demand. Low availability, coupled with hike in prices of animal feed has hampered the quality due to mixing of foreign impurities such as weeds and low quality grass and moisture in the animal feeds. This may consequently bring down the quality of livestock and make them more prone to diseases. As a result, consumers may also be affected, thereby leading to a decline in demand for food products.  


Sabrina Mitchell

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