Dairy business provides livelihood to 60 million rural households in India and the country continues to be the largest producer of milk in the world, but global warming could result in adversely impacting the overall output in the coming years.

Indian dairy scientists estimate that climate change will lead to decline in milk production by over 3 million tonnes (MT) per year by 2020. The projections, shared by the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) with the agriculture ministry, should be cause for worry considering the growing demand for milk in the country, estimated at 200 MT by 2021-22.

Though milk production has been steadily increasing with 2015-16 recording an output of 160 MT, the impact of rising temperatures, especially on cross-bred cows, will make the task of meeting domestic demand difficult and could eventually lead to a decline in per capita consumption.

At a time when the world's major producers, including the US, Brazil and Australia, are importing Indian milch animals to develop heat-resistant species, the government is focusing on indigenous breeds by introducing various schemes through its ambitious National Gokul Mission programmes.

"The decline in milk production and reproductive efficiency due to rising temperature will be highest in exotic and cross-bred cattle followed by buffaloes. Indigenous breeds will be least affected by global warming," agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh told TOI.

Singh said the Centre has been assisting states in setting up 'Gokul Gram' (integrated indigenous cattle centres) that would scientifically help local farmers conserve 'desi' breeds of cows and buffaloes. Gokul Gram will act as a centre for development of indigenous\ bre- eds and a dependable source for supply of high genetic stock to the farmers in the breeding tract. So far, the central government has approved setting up 14 Gokul Grams in different states under the National Gokul Mission.

Source: May 23, 2016, The Times of India