Dairy farming has been rapidly growing in the agribusiness sector in Jammu and Kashmir. In recent years, dairy farming has experienced a new era of innovation and substantial government support.
Both the government of India and the government of Jammu and Kashmir have placed significant emphasis on enhancing the dairy industry in the region.
Various national schemes, such as the Nationwide Artificial Insemination Program, National Animal Disease Control Program, Animal Husbandry Kisan Credit Card and Accelerated Breed Improvement Programme have been implemented to benefit dairy farmers throughout India.
Additionally government of Jammu and Kashmir has started integrated dairy development scheme few years back which had shown good impact on dairy industry of the UT.
Recently an important program called Holistic Agriculture Development programme was started in Jammu and Kashmir to revolutionise agriculture and allied sectors in the UT.
In addition to financial help through this programme to beneficiaries there is also scope of skill development in agriculture and allied sectors. The main aim of this program is to make UT self sufficient in all agri produce and to create employment.
If we reflect on the past decade, many dairy farmers were often illiterate and confined to their local markets or nearby areas when it came to purchasing inputs and selling finished goods.
This frequently resulted in low returns for their products. In the past, most people would raise a single cow to fulfil their daily milk demand. However, today, cows are raised as business units.
Thanks to the successful Digital India campaign by the Government of India, farmers are motivated through different social media platforms to enter the dairy sector and establish their livelihoods.
Farmers can now purchase inputs and sell their products anywhere in the country at favorable rates. Farmers from different corners of the country can interact and rapidly exchange knowledge and experiences through digitalization—a process that would have otherwise taken decades for extension workers to achieve in the field.
Nowadays, numerous training programs are organized by national institutions and state universities, allowing farmers to participate from their homes.
However, small and marginal farmers are often compelled to sell their produce at the initial price offered by middlemen due to supply chain disruptions and the limited shelf life of milk. Thus, there is a huge scope for value addition of milk, and growth dairy cooperatives in J&K.
Small dairy farmers who are not part of cooperative societies are susceptible to exploitation by private dealers, particularly concerning the accurate payment of dues based on milk fat content.
Dairy farming is also playing an important role in women's empowerment. I personally encountered a woman from Sheikhpora during the Kisan Sampark Abhiyan, who was managing a unit of 2 dairy cows and earning 20,000 from this venture.
In conclusion, it is evident that the dairy industry has gained significant momentum in terms of progressive development over the past few years.
This can be attributed to the active involvement of educated youth, digitalization, and substantial government support through various beneficiary-oriented schemes. However, there remains ample room for further development, particularly in the area of feed and fodder.
The availability of high-quality feed and fodder poses a substantial challenge. The introduction of superior-quality fodder, the utilization of unconventional feed resources, and the fortification of grain byproducts are imperative steps for the industry's continued growth.
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad, Field Veterinarian Department of Animal Husbandry J&K.