There is of need of a strong services sector in rural India and this should include Agri-business centers and agri-clinics on a big scale, Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Radha Mohan Singh said on Friday
Addressing the inaugural session of International Grassland Congress in New Delhi he said that the current focus is on how to make agriculture more attractive and rewarding to the younger generation. It is imperative for the nation to produce food not only to feed its more than one billion human population but also for an equal number of livestock, he added.
“Crop and animal husbandries are the two main components of mixed farming system, which influence our agricultural economy and provide sustenance. Rural economy of India has revolved around livestock and because of urbanization there are changes in feeding habits of peoples and it moved more towards milk, milk products and meat which resulted in increase in demand of livestock products especially in peri-urban region,” the Minister.
Fodder sources in India are from crop residues, cultivated fodder, forages and forests, permanent pastures and grazing lands. Currently India is facing a deficit of about 35.6 percent of green fodder and approximately 10.9 per cent of dried fodder and besides this today the milk production in India is highest in the world which is approximately 138 million tons. Wool production is approximately 480 million kg in India. As compare to dairy animals, sheep and goats have to rely on pastures.
The dependence of domestic animals on pasture is very high and constant development and ever increasing human population placed a much higher pressure on natural grasslands and pastures and ultimately their area is decreasing rapidly. Indian grassland has a vast diversity from north-east (Assam) to west (Thar desert). The ecological setup found in Thar area of Rajasthan has similarity with sahara grasslands of Africa and that why sometime it is considered as Indian sahahra desert. East to west Thar area of Rajasthan has vast sahara desert vegetation and when we move to eastern part of Rajasthan it has grasses which are more in high rainfall areas. A vast bio-diversity in vegetation and grassland is observed in India from east to west which is very unique in nature.
“The status of grasslands is highly variable and the area and productivity is decreasing because of increasing human pressure for cultivation of food grains crops and increase in animal population which results in overgrazing and ultimately shrinking the grasslands area, the Minister said.
Traditionally grasslands are mainly utilized by pastoralist’s community. Singh said that besides larger grasslands common property resources (CPRs) serves the needs of poor resource farmers. Between 84 to 100 percent of poor households gathered food, fuel, fodder and fibre items from the CPRs.
“Fodder is the major item for which practically all rural poor depend on CPRs. The landless farmers graze their animals as well as collect fodder from the CPRs. Dependence of the poor section on CPRs for grazing is significant,” he added.
“We need growth of a strong services sector in rural India. Agri-business centres and agri-clinics are needed on a big scale. The current focus is on how to make agriculture more attractive and rewarding to the younger generation. It is imperative for the nation to produce food not only to feed its more than one billion human population but also for an equal number of livestock,” the Minister said.