Crises also present opportunities for reform. The Centre has, through a series of initiatives, ushered in reforms in various sectors, including agriculture. The backdrop of Covid-19 has provided stakeholders an opportunity to reorient the thinking on dairy. For this to happen, there will be changes required, definitive action, and a different growth trajectory for the industry, notwithstanding the fact that, today, India is the largest milk producer in the world.
The livestock sector—within it, dairy—needs to play a larger role in the prime minister’s goal to double farmer’s income by FY23. Further, promoting dairy will also lead to a more equitable income, and this aspect needs to be appreciated. Milch animal holding is far more equitable than land holding. About 85% of the total farmers are small and marginal. While they together own about 47% of farmland, they own about 75% of milch animals. The productivity of milch animals in India is around one-eighth of the global average. Land prices in India are very high, which makes running large dairy farms unviable. So, dairy farming in India will continue to be dominated by small and marginal farmers.