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Drought hits milk output in Prakasam

Drought hits milk output in Prakasam
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Highlights

Once a top milk-producing district in India, Prakasam district has now lost its sheen and status to the continuous drought and shortage of fodder. The nominal help from the government in the form of fodder supply does not meet the requirement from the farmers. Thanks to the decision of the Union government, the farmers are now unable to get rid of the unproductive cattle.

Ban on cattle sale for slaughter a bolt from the blue sky

Ongole: Once a top milk-producing district in India, Prakasam district has now lost its sheen and status to the continuous drought and shortage of fodder. The nominal help from the government in the form of fodder supply does not meet the requirement from the farmers. Thanks to the decision of the Union government, the farmers are now unable to get rid of the unproductive cattle.

As per the statistics available with the department of Animal Husbandry, Prakasam district has 13.2 lakh buffalo population in 2007. The number dropped to 9.7 lakh in 2012 and to 8 lakh in 2017. The number of calves is dropped from 5.9 lakh in 2007 to 2.9 lakh in 2012 and to 2 lakh in 2017.

The steep fall in the number of buffaloes and calves is due to the drought and the increasing cost of maintenance of the cattle. Gutta Ramalinga Reddy of Santhanuthalapadu says: “Ten years ago, we used to have 10 buffaloes in our house.

Four members of the family work with them and earn a decent income. But now, the maintenance of the buffaloes has become an expensive task as we should buy the fodder for a high price, sell the milk for less. If calculated, we are not getting a minimum of coolie charges for the work. So, the farmers in the district are not buying buffaloes.”

Due to continuous drought, there is more scarcity for the fodder in the district. The farmers are forced to purchase grass at Rs 6 per kg and spend about Rs 60 to 90 for each buffalo on a daily basis. This reduces the income on the milk production by more than 50 per cent.

Kolli Sateesh of Naguluppalapadu says: “Though the government is supplying fodder, they have limitations and all farmers are unable to get it. The animals require a quality feed of at least 10 kg per day and we should buy it from vendors from Godavari and Krishna districts. Buffaloes give an average of 4 litres of milk per day and we get Rs 200.

This means a small farmer family with two buffaloes is not getting an income of Rs 6000 per month even after dedicating their full time on the work. If the family spends a part of the time in other work, they could easily make Rs 10,000 per month. So most families are now trying to get rid of the animals.”

To reduce the expenditure on cattle, the animal Husbandry Department is supplying silage grass, concentrated feed and total mixed ration (TMR) consisting of forages, grains, protein, and mineral feeds. Dr R Murali Krishna, deputy director of Animal Husbandry department said, “We are supplying ample quantity of fodder in the form of silage, concentrated feed and TMR to the dairy farmers at a subsidy rate. But the government has set up the condition to limit the subsidy to four animals for a farmer.

Even if the farmers require more fodder for the animals, we are supplying it after acquiring permission from the joint director on time to time basis. To face the scarcity of the fodder and reduce the expenditure to farmers, the government has ordered to identify 5150 acres of land covering all villages in the district for growing fodder through NREGS.

We have also appointed officials from the department to inspect the animals being sent to slaughter houses. If any good animal is found, we are convincing the farmer to keep it and supplying enough fodder for it.” It is a regular process to sell the unproductive animals and buy good and young animals in the weekly markets at different places in the district. But these markets are almost vacant after the announcement of the Union government decision to ban the sale of cattle to slaughter houses.

N Prasad of Chimakurti said, “The rule by the central government threw all farmers in a state of confusion. If the government gives clarity about the new rule banning the sale of cattle to slaughter houses, it will help many farmers to sell the non-productive buffaloes and buy good and productive animals. Along with the government initiatives, this will also help the increase of cattle in the number and increase of milk production in the district.”

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