Scenario of Dairy Production in India and Strategies for Dairy Development

Scenario of Dairy Production in India and Strategies for Dairy Development


India with the total milk production of 109 million tones is the world's highest milk-producing country for the past one decade now and accounted for about 15% of the world milk production in 2009. The importance of dairy enterprise in the national economy can be gauged from the fact that the value of output from milk group is highest among all the agricultural commodities, accounting for nearly one fourth of the value of output from agricultural sector. Dairying is one of the most important means of providing livelihood and nutritional security to the rural masses. The livestock activities, among which dairy farming predominates, employ about 8.5 million workers in the country. Milk and milk products account for 9.2 and 12.4 percent of protein intake in rural and urban areas, respectively, which is higher than the protein intake through non-vegetarian animal products.

The performance of the Indian dairy sector has been quite impressive. Milk production in India increased from 17 million tones in 1950-51 to over 109 million tones by 2008-09. During the past one and half decades (1990-2006), milk production has grown at a rate of nearly 4% per annum vis a vis world growth rate of 1.5 percent. The exports of dairy products increased from Rs. 13.98 million in 1990-91 to Rs.6766.82 million in 2005-06, while imports increased from Rs.40.52 million to 345.66 million during the same period. Hence, as the net trade balance of dairy products has changed from negative to positive and the country is now a net exporter of dairy products.

Milk Production

The increased production of milk has improved the per capita milk availability to 250 grams per day. The demand of milk and milk products in India is projected to increase to 142.9 million tones in 2015 and further to 191.3 million tones in 2020. At the existing rate of growth in milk production, in next ten years, supply will fall short of the demand. Together with the increase in domestic demand of milk, at the international level, particularly in developing countries, the three drivers of demand - population growth, urbanization and income growth- are very strongly in operation. For instance, the import demand of milk and milk products has shown tremendous increase in several developing countries notably China, South Korea, Singapore, Srilanka and several other Asian countries many of whom have become buoyant economies after opening up of the world market. Thus, buoyant markets and trade liberalization have opened new vistas of international trade for the Indian dairy sector. However, for tapping the economic benefits of growing demand of milk and milk products and to compete with the traditional milk exporting countries viz; Australia and New Zealand the Indian dairy sector has to gear itself to meet the following challenges:

  • Increase the milk production at the rate that is higher than the existing growth
  • Increase the production of value added dairy products
  • Provide complete quality assurance.


During the year 2005-06 the country had 19.34 million crossbred (CB) cows, 28.37 million indigenous (Ind.) cows and 33.17 million buffaloes (Buff.) in milk. The milk production of the corresponding categories was 19.34 million tones (CB), 20.41 million tones (Ind.) and 52.07 million tones (Buff.). The average milk production of the respective categories was 6.44 kg/d (CB), 1.97 kg/d (Ind.) and 4.3 kg/d (Buff.) thereby indicating that the focus should continue towards better milk yielders viz. crossbred cows and buffaloes and the strategy for increasing milk production should focus on increasing animal productivity rather than animal population. This is particularly important as in relation to recommended feeding standards by animal nutritionists, the current feed and fodder shortage in terms of crude protein, digestible crude protein and total digestible nutrients is estimated to be 39.8, 44.3 and 39.6 percent, respectively. With the increase in feed and fodder production the requirement availability gap is projected to narrow down, but in 2020, 35.2 percent shortfall in DCP and 26.6 percent in TDN is likely to persist.

Indian Dairy Sector

The emergence of India as a premier dairy nation of the world could be attributed mainly to the intensive crossbreeding programmes implemented throughout the country over the last few decades. The population pressure and emerging global opportunities further necessitate that the efforts for enhancing animal productivity are accelerated. This calls for continuance of well-proven technologies such as crossbreeding with superior germplasm coupled with improvement in the productivity of vast population of generally low producing cattle and buffaloes at faster rate using emerging reproductive and molecular technologies. There is a great potential for application of multiple ovulation and embryo transfer technology for production and faster multiplication of superior germplasm of elite animals. There is also scope for identifying the unique genes specific to indigenous dairy animal genetic resources using the molecular techniques. It is expected that by the use of such technologies more number of superior animals per unit time can be obtained by reduction in generation interval which could further increase the pace of genetic advances by increasing the intensity of selection. Technologies for raising male buffalo calves economically should be developed as this potential source of income of farmers is almost going waste. Studies also need to be conducted to quantify the emission of methane and other green house gases from Indian dairy sector and methods also need to be devised for mitigating such emission.

Besides meeting domestic demands, it may also be possible to export germplasm to tropical developing countries. In this context National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) Karnal has also set the target of enhancing its semen production from the present level of about 0.1 million doses annually to about 2.5 million doses per year by 2020 A.D. Also about 400-500 males from elite herds of Sahiwal, Crossbreds and Murrah, are proposed to be supplied every year for genetic improvement in the country. For improvement of various breeds of cattle and buffaloes there is a need to form Breed Societies. These departments could interact with various developmental agencies including Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) for this purpose. In all interactive programmes involving field recording, progeny testing and data bank should be taken to supply information on availability of semen, bulls, females etc. for consistent genetic improvement of livestock. To effectively monitor these programmes, there is an urgent need for linking them with bio-informatics centres at state, national and international levels. There is also an urgent need to develop national animal production and health information system and disease free zones in the country.

Future Challenges

Housing management aspect of the new breeds/ strains of high yielding dairy animals developed in the country also needs to be addressed adequately as it is essential to realize the high milk production potential. Animal’s shelter requirement varies according to the agro-climatic conditions of the region and the socio-economic condition of its farmers. The pattern of traditional animal, shelters also varies from region to region. In order to make specific recommendations it is essential to take into consideration the physiological, behavioural and other related aspects of the animal comfort. It is, therefore, essential to carry out the detailed investigation on type and system of housing required for different agro-climatic regions and suggests ideal shelter systems based on these objective criteria.

For meeting the nutritional requirements of the livestock, particularly high yielding milch animals there is a need to increase the bioavailability of the feeds and fodders by increasing the research efforts in the area of feed processing using chemical, biological and biotechnological approaches. Also, it is necessary to improve the productivity of the land for meeting out the feed and fodder requirements from the limited area available for this purpose. There is also the need to encourage farmer’s unions, NGOs and cooperatives to put common property lands under improved pasture and silvi pastoral systems. There is also a need for revising and updating the Indian feeding standards to make them more realistic and internationally accepted systems. An exercise has to be conducted to develop an effective plan for improving the availability of feed resources of the country, as there is shortage of feeds, resulting in inadequate supply of nutrients especially protein, energy and minerals. Besides this, we need to explore new feed resources and evaluate them for livestock feeding and find out how much these can be useful in bridging the gap between supply and demand of the nutrients. For updating the information about feed resources, there is a need to generate information on the level of anti nutritional factors in the feeds. Presently, data on the levels of aflatoxins, pesticide residues, heavy metals in feeds and fodders is inadequate; therefore, it is imperative to generate this information so that we will be in a position to specify the quality of feeds as per international standards in the present era of globalization.