National Cattle Development Board – A Necessity
Development of cattle needs to be promoted on a large scale all over the country. The Government has largely confined the scope of cattle development to breed improvement alone with a focus on the milk yield. Other aspects of cattle development i.e. use of draught animal power, use of cattle dung and urine to prepare biogas, organic manures and pesticides, medicines, soaps, phenyl, mosquito repellent coils and other value added products from cow dung, urine etc. have not received the requisite attention. The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare runs Projects for promotion of organic farming, the annual expenditure on which is a few hundred crore Rupees, while the annual subsidy on chemical fertilizers runs up to one lakh crore Rupees.
Every cattle produces dung and urine, the proper use of which and the use of draught power of the male cattle shall add to the farmer’s income. While cattle development is the subject of Dept. of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, use of cattle dung and urine and draught power of the male cattle has not been properly included in its mandate. Establishment of shelters for cattle is also not on the active consideration list of any Govt. Department.
The Govt. needs to promote organic farming and use of bullock driven implements in every village by every farmer. Development of medicines and other products from dung and urine also need research and widespread development to supplement the income of the farmers and cattle shelters. Development and distribution of improved bullock carts, bullock driven tractors, water pumps, generators and other bullock driven implements are also required on a large scale.
Institutions keeping cattle like Goshalas, Gosadans require necessary government support for their sustenance. It is incumbent on the part of the Government to ensure provision of shelters for stray cattle wherever they are required. These institutions/shelters should be integrated in the overall cattle development programmes.
State Governments have their laws for prevention of slaughter of cattle. Rampant violation of these laws is witnessed everywhere. The cattle are abandoned or sold for slaughter, because they have become ‘useless’. The ‘useless’ cattle can be made into ‘useful’ cattle by proper use of dung, urine and draught animal power. If the farmer is still unable to keep such cattle, the shelters will take care of them and make proper use of their dung, urine and draught power. Inaction of the Govt. in this regard is the root cause of the rampant violation of the cattle preservation laws.
Widespread development of pastures is another area requiring immediate attention. Fodder development efforts so far have been insignificant. Pastures should be developed on vacant lands adjoining railway lines, highways and other degraded lands. Afforestation programme should include plantation of fodder varieties to the maximum possible extent. Harvesting operations should invariably be combined with reaping of agricultural residues for fodder which are often burnt down after harvesting of foodgrain. In case of extreme scarcity of fodder, forest areas should be liberally opened for grazing.
The degraded forest land patches should be used for provision of temporary cattle shelters for a few years during which these patches will be re-claimed by the cattle dung, urine etc. The cattle dung/urine can also be used to prepare compost manure/pesticide for departmental plantation/nursery. The cattle can be subsequently moved to another shelter and old shelter land along with its boundary, water system etc. be ideally used for plantation. Forest land should also be provided for permanent shelters.
Availability of cheap fodder and developed pasture lands coupled with proper use of cattle dung, urine and draught animal power will always make cattle ‘useful’ for farmer and income generating assets. The need to establish shelters for abandoned stray cattle shall also be greatly reduced.
The Govt. should promote the use of draught animal power by reserving short distance govt. sponsored transport for this sector. Examples could be of foodgrain transportation from FCI godowns to fair price shops and short distance transportation of wooden logs in forest areas to Forest Depots. This shall also reduce environmental pollution and save the use of scarce oil resources. Govt. farms and farmer training institutions should use bullock driven implements for agriculture, demonstration and training and should promote organic farming.
The above and many similar efforts need to be carried out in a big way all over the country. Establishment of the National Dairy Development Board has revolutionized the milk scenario in the country. A similarly high powered National Cattle Development Board is required to be established for development of cattle in all aspects.
The functions of the National Cattle Development Board should be as follows:-
- Organization and co-ordination of research on indigenous breeds of cattle in various research institutions; production of pedigreed indigenous breeding bulls of all indigenous breeds of cows.
- Promotion of biogas and organic farming using cattle dung and urine all over the country.
- Development and large scale distribution of bullock-carts, bullock-driven tractors, water pumps, generators and other bullock driven implements.
- Promotion of the use of draught animal power in Govt., Semi-Govt. and Private Sector.
- Research and development for preparation of medicines and other useful products from cattle dung and urine.
- Large scale development of pastures and all steps to increase availability of cheap fodder.
- Promotion of establishment of shelters for cattle and their integration in the overall Cattle Development Programme.
- Facilitation of the Central Govt. /State Govts. in enactment/implementation of cattle preservation laws/rules.
- Coordination with various Central Govt. Departments, State Govts, local bodies and NGOs to ensure the above objectives.
All existing cattle schemes of the Govt. of India for development of cattle , organic farming, fodder etc. should also be transferred to the National Cattle Development Board for cohesive and widespread implementation.
The National Cattle Development Board should have a distinguished person as its Chairman and Managing Director and representatives from all the three departments of the Ministry of Agriculture and Family Welfare (Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Department of Agricultural Research and Education), Ministry of Environment and Forests, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, other concerned Govt. Departments and representatives of few State Govts (by rotation) as its members. The Board should be anchored in the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, as cattle development is primarily the subject of this Department. The Board should be given suitable autonomy and sufficient resources to plan its activities and implement them all over the country.
The National Cattle Development Board thus established with a mandate to ensure cattle development in all aspects all over the country would contribute significantly in achieving the targeted annual growth rate of 4% in agriculture and allied activities. The cattle with better feed, upkeep and optimum utilization with improved agricultural implements shall also be saved from cruelty and slaughter. This will bring in the real sense prosperity for farmers and welfare of cattle.
Rajeev Gupta, Secretary,Youth Affairs, GoI
(All views expressed in the blog are personal)