India set to have a lean milk season next year

Hit by severe drought, production is likely to witness a 5% fall.
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The Maharashtra coupled with moderate rainfall across India this year is not just a farmers’ worry, it has also hit the milch animals. With availability going down, the cattle are stressed, says the industry, and this would affect the productivity of the animals. If southern India does not get good rains in the coming months, the overall stress related to productivity loss could well lead to a lean season next year.
majors estimate production in Maharashtra to be down in the range of 5-10% and for rest of the country there could be a 5% production loss or lower productivity. India, the world’s largest milk producing nation produced around 142 million tonnes in 2014-15, and production has been clocking a 3.7% growth rate over the last decade.
Severe drought that affected 14,708 villages (by official estimates) in the state has hit fodder availability, especially green fodder. «Due to limited availability, fodder prices have already gone up in the range of 25-30% and are expected to surge further. Cattle, as a result, are stressed and according to major dairies the productivity is expected to be hit in the range of 5-10% in the coming season,» Shiva Mudgil, assistant vice president and dairy analyst with Rabobank said.
Officials from the state’s animal husbandry department too admitted the same. G Deshpande, deputy director, fodder development, commissionerate of animal husbandry, Maharashtra said that fodder availability is a definitely a problem at the moment. «The Rabi season is on now. But, come February-March onwards there is likely to be a scarcity situation for fodder.» Farmers have started to divert to cash crops (which also produces cattle feed) like soyabean, sugarcane, cotton from green crops like maize etc. As such prices of concentrated cattle feed has risen by 17-18% in recent months.
The problem of fodder scarcity is not limited to Maharashtra alone. With below normal monsoons, most of the other milk producing states like Rajasthan, Gujarat and even Tamil Nadu are experiencing low availability of fodder.
As R S Sodhi, managing director of the country’s largest cooperative Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) that also manufactures cattle feed said «With availability of fodder going down, the sale of cattle feed (balanced nutrition for cattle that comes in pellet forms) has gone up by 20%.» He added that while substituting fodder with cattle feed would not affect the nutrition of the animal, but in case of a diet that is low on green and dry fodder, the animal is likely to be under stress. He further estimated that production in Maharashtra could be 5-10% lower next season.
Players in Tamil Nadu are also skeptical. R G Chandramogan, managing director of Hatsun Agro, a leading private dairy in the region said, «The situation would be clear in the coming two months as to what kind of rains the Andhra belt and Tamil Nadu get. However, the fodder situation this year has not been good and the cattle are indeed stressed and this would definitely impact milk production across the country by at least 5%.»
Impact on productivity could be more in states like Gujarat and Rajasthan where dairying has taken off well and farmers have invested in their herd.
Private players in Maharashtra are already a worried lot. A leading private dairy in the region Foods which procures one million litres per day on an average from around 23,000 farmers said that while procurement has not been affected much so far this year, it is definitely going to be affected next season.
Source: Business Standar

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