900 319 0030

Livestock Census Data 2019

iasparliament Logo
October 23, 2019

Why in news?

The 20th livestock census (2019) data was released recently by the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare.

What does the data reveal?

  • Indigenous breeds - The population of exotic and cross-bred cows has surged by nearly 27% since the last livestock census in 2012.
  • However, the population of the indigenous and non-descript cattle has dipped by 6% per cent.
  • The data thus makes it evident the futility of the government’s controversial cow protection policies.
  • The government has set up the Gokul Mission for the preservation and promotion of indigenous cattle breeds.
  • Also, curbs were made on the movement and trade of cows, besides the controversial vigilantism by self-appointed cow protectors.
  • Despite all these, cattle-keepers continue to prefer cross-bred cows and buffaloes over desi (indigenous) cows.
  • Domesticated animals - The census shows that the population of several useful but low milk- or non-milk-yielding domesticated animals is dwindling rapidly.
  • These include equines and bovines like horses, ponies, mules, donkeys, camels, and yak.
  • These animals cumulatively constitute only about 0.23% of the country’s vast livestock wealth.
  • Nevertheless, these are useful in their own respect, with each one having its own unique qualities.
  • The most dramatic fall is in the number of donkeys (61%) and mules (57%).
  • If not protected, these animals may vanish in near future.

What is the case with the state of U.P.?

  • The above trend is evident in Uttar Pradesh that has recorded the largest number of cases of vigilantism and lynching.
  • The state government is directly involved in the cow conservation campaign.
  • All district authorities have been asked to build goshalas (cow shelters) to keep and feed cattle at government expense.
  • A one-rupee cess has been imposed on every liquor bottle to raise funds for this purpose.
  • Yet, the state’s cattle population has declined by nearly 4%, while the buffalo count has risen by about 8%.
  • The closing down of many old slaughter houses and preventing opening of new ones have resulted in a decline in the number of goats and sheep as well.
  • This bodes ill for the export of mutton from the country’s leading meat-exporting state.

What are the implications of cow protection measures?

  • Stray cattle are not enumerated in the livestock census.
  • But anecdotal evidence suggests a sharp increase in their numbers as a result of the ban on the movement and trade of cows.
  • Earlier the old and unproductive cows used to be disposed of in the cattle bazaars.
  • These are now let loose to roam about in the countryside, damaging crop fields and forests and competing with other livestock for fodder and feed resources.
  • Farm organisations from all over the country are demanding an urgent solution to this menace.

What is the way forward?

  • Clearly, the livestock-keepers’ choice of the animals and their breeds is guided more by their utility rather than the government’s diktat.
  • This explains why the population of major milch animals is steady or on the rise while that of the draught animals is plummeting.
  • [Draught animals are no longer in much demand due to the availability of mechanical alternatives.]
  • The best way to popularise the pure-bred indigenous cows would be to boost their inherent milk yield.
  • This could be taken up through selective breeding without altering their typical genetic makeup, which is adapted to local conditions.
  • The policies concerning the movement and marketing of cows also need to be revisited for the benefit of the cattle owners and the overall livestock economy.


Source: Business Standard

Login or Register to Post Comments
There are no reviews yet. Be the first one to review.



Free UPSC Interview Guidance Programme