After the Operation Flood: Indian dairy and the legacy of the White Revolution

Nice essay by Prof Sudha Narayanan of IGIDR in TheIndiaForum website which is making a habit of publishing interesting stuff:

Indian dairy is one of the most important segments within agriculture; it is also the fastest growing segment. In a sector that is otherwise widely acknowledged as being in a crisis, dairy has often provided the rare happy news, growing routinely in real terms at over 5% per annum in recent years. It accounts for two-thirds of the value of output in the livestock sector that, in turns, accounts for a quarter of the country’s agricultural GDP. Dairy has therefore become an obvious focal point for the government’s goal to double farmers’ incomes by 2022.

Dairy is vital to rural livelihoods. There are an estimated 75 million dairy farmers in the country1, a number larger than the entire population of countries such as the UK, France, Italy or Thailand. It is especially important for women (who account for over 60% of the days devoted to animal rearing2) and those with little land for whom it is an overwhelmingly important source of income. Dairy supply chains have historically also generated substantial employment opportunities. The dairy sector is arguably one of the most complex in the economy, connecting animals, crops, water and humans in a tangled and fragile web.

This article attempts to trace the trajectory of Indian dairy since Independence and to present the challenges currently faced by the sector. That this article comes at a time when India has chosen to walk away from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) offers us an opportunity to reflect on where we are and where we are headed.

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