he growth of the animal husbandry sector in Gujarat has resulted not only in increased milk production but has also provided a boost to the overall agro-economy of the state. Also, Gujarat has been consistently clocking an impressive agricultural growth rate. This has been made possible because the state government has focused on improving not only primary sectors like water supply, electricity, irrigation, quality of seeds and advanced technology but also tertiary sectors like animal husbandry.
The cooperative sector under Narendra Modi has played a pivotal role in strengthening the dairy sector of Gujarat. With the largest dairy cooperative in India, Amul, based in Anand, milk production in Gujarat has increased by 68% in the last decade. Because of the strenuous efforts of the state Government, Gujarat's dairies send daily supply of 20 lakh litres of milk to Delhi, 8 lakh litres to Mumbai and 5 lakh litres to Kolkata, along with supplying milk powder to the armed forces.
First-ever cattle hostel
Milk production depends on the well-being of the cattle. Keeping this in view the government of Gujarat has laid special emphasis on providing adequate cattle-care facilities to the animal-owners. Taking a leap forward, the state has set up an innovative, eco-friendly, cooperative based cattle management project based on PPP model. A unique and first of its kind in the country, "state of the art" Animal Hostel has been successfully commissioned in Akodara village in Sabarkantha district. A dream project of Modi to create such spaces where all the cattle of a village are kept and managed together with all necessary infrastructure facilities, the Akodara animal hostel is a large-scale community facility for milch animals of the village where these animals are reared scientifically, and managed on a co-operative basis. The Akodara Milk Cooperative Society reported that milk production per animal per day has increased approximately 20% within few months of the commissioning of the hostel. In addition, it has already rendered multiple returns to villagers such as direct economic benefits, improvement in social conditions and better environment management. The hostel comprises 36 cattle sheds and villagers had sown pasturage on a 50-hectare land to provide nutritious fodder to over 1,000 animals housed in the facility.
Seen as an unprecedented farmers' initiative for quality cattle-rearing, the facilities in the hostel include scientific cattle sheds, water storage tank with a capacity to store 1,00,000 litres of water, in-house fodder production & storage, electricity generation through two biogas plants estimated around 225 units per day, vermi-compost production of 1,000 tonnes per year, in-house veterinary dispensary and breeding services and water harvesting system. In addition, the hostel compounds also house a milk collection room where village Milk Producers Co-op. Society is established with an automatic milk collection system.
Modi's vision to integrate innovation with scientific approach for benefit of the common people has resulted in this revolutionary rural empowerment concept, which has significantly reduced the drudgery of women involved in taking care of animals kept at their own homes. Being provided employment at the animal hostel, women in the village do not have to devote more than two hours daily for animal care. Moreover, volunteers of the Sakhi Mandal prepare vermin-compost fertiliser out of animal dung collected from the cattle.
The Akodara animal hostel has also contributed significantly in the reduction of greenhouse gases (approx. 3.2 tonnes of methane emission) because of the use of dung and urine of animals in the gobar gas plant. Moreover, methane produced in gobar gas is being used for generation of 225 units of electricity per day.
Riding high on the success of the Akodara animal hostel, the government of Gujarat envisages to expand such progressive activities for the welfare of the animal husbandry sector and establish such five animal hostels in five districts — Amreli, Kuchchh, Tapi, Dahod and Banaskantha this financial year. Tapi and Dahod are the tribal belts of Gujarat. The state government has decided to provide 90% assistance up to Rs 415 lakh per animal hostel, whereas the remaining 10% will be borne by the respective co-operative agency. The assistance includes cost of construction of scientific cattle sheds, gobar gas plant, vermin compost unit and all other contingent expenses. The projects shall be managed by local milk cooperative societies once they become operational. All the animal owners of the village will be included without any kind of discrimination especially women who will be provided 1/3 share in the management committees.
The government of Gujarat, in the last 10 years, has organised 25,000 health camps where as many as 120 diseases among cattle have been eradicated. In the words of the Chief Minister, "Gone are the days when the cattle owners used to migrate from the drought-prone regions in the state for greener pasture almost every summer. The government has undertaken a project to grow fodder on 67,000 hectares in the Banni region in Kutch."
Additionally, the state machinery has undertaken initiatives to ensure the provision of adequate cattle fodder and has created 185 new veterinary clinics to facilitate door-step animal healthcare. Gujarat has set up the Kamdhenu University to create awareness about enriched fodder in cattle rearing among cattle owners so as to provide nutritious fodder to disease-free livestock with a view to increasing milk productivity and production.
Government aided initiatives such as animal hostels and cattle vaccination camps are revolutionary steps in co-operative management of cattle as well as conservation of natural resources with a unique model of integration, co-operation and conservation.