Chairman of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), Meenesh Shah introduced international experts to India’s smallholder dairying system and shared experiences using innovation and digitisation for dairy development while speaking at Science & Innovation Forum 2022 hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome, Italy.
To discuss the Indian smallholder farming system, sustainable livestock production systems and innovations, he met FAO’s Deputy Director Generals, Maria Helena Semedo and Beth Bechdol along with Director, Animal Production and Health Division, FAO, Thanawat Tiensin on the sidelines of World Food Forum. Opportunities for collaboration on dairy development were highlighted during the sessions, and Shah also suggested organising an international symposium together as part of India’s G20 chairmanship.
Shah spoke about “Technological innovations in support of small-scale dairy producers in India” during the session titled “Harnessing science and innovation for sustainable livestock sector transformation” and went into detail about India’s transformation from a country with a shortage of milk to the largest producer of milk in the world. According to Shah, India produces 23 per cent of the world’s milk, with a 6 per cent yearly growth rate. These have been made feasible by advancements in processes, technology, science, and, most crucially, in uniting people to create a governance structure.
The National Digital Livestock Mission (NDLM), which includes components like traceability, disease surveillance, and control programmes, and the Information Network for Animal Productivity & Health (INAPH), a national database in which over 230 million animals are registered, are among the digital ecosystems that are being prioritised, according to the chairman of the NDDB.
Shah added that the manure (cattle dung) management efforts being carried out by NDDB with partner organisations have demonstrated to be quite successful by way of providing cooking gas to meet the needs of households, income from the sale of bio-slurry, solid and liquid organic fertilisers improving soil fertility, and at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions. By building massive biogas plants that would supply the dairy facilities’ energy requirements, this idea is also being advanced.
The chairman of the NDDB stated during the panel discussion that there are numerous opportunities for innovation in the dairy industry, from raising milk production of dairy animals to enhancing the quality of milk and milk products and value addition, all of which will benefit our small and marginal dairy farmers as well as consumers. According to Shah, it is now necessary to translate laboratory successes into real-world improvements in operational effectiveness and decreased environmental impact of dairying, for which such cross-learning opportunities and sharing platforms would be crucial for implementing best practices around the world.
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