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  • 20 Aug 2019 GS Paper 3 Economy

    Animal farming in India is largely pursued as a complementary activity or supplementary activity where livestock is integrated in the farming activity. Examine the role of livestock rearing in Indian economy. (250 words)



    • In Introduction give data highlighting importance of livestock sector.
    • Examine the role of livestock rearing in Indian economy
    • Give Conclusion.


    • The agricultural system of India is predominantly a Mixed Farming model, which involves growing of crops as well as raising livestock.
    • According to the 19th Livestock Census (2012), India has the world's largest livestock population.
    • As of 2012, the contribution of livestock to Agricultural GDP is 25.6% and to the national GDP is 4.11%.
    • It plays an important role in the national economy and in the socio-economic development of the country. It also plays an important role in the rural economy as supplementing family incomes and generating gainful employment in the rural sector, particularly among the landless labourers, small and marginal farmers and women's.

    Role of livestock rearing in Indian Economy

    • Farmers’ Economy: The farmers in India maintain mixed farming system, i.e. a combination of crop and livestock where the output of one enterprise becomes the input of another enterprise thereby realize the resource efficiency. The livestock serve the farmers in different ways:
      • Income: Livestock contributed 16% to the income of small farm households as against an average of 14% for all rural households. From selling milk of cows and buffaloes; sell and purchase of animals- cattle, goat, sheep, camels, etc. also ensure profit realisation to farmers at the time of need.
      • Employment: Livestock provides livelihood to two-thirds of rural community. It also provides employment to about 9 % of the population in India.
      • Food: Livestock products such as milk, meat and eggs are an important source of animal protein to the members of the livestock owners.
      • Social security: The animals offer social security to the owners in terms of their status in the society. The families especially the landless which own animals are better placed than those who do not.
      • Draft Animal: The bullocks are the backbone of Indian agriculture. The farmers especially the marginal and small depend upon bullocks for ploughing, carting and transport of both inputs and outputs.
      • Dung: In rural areas dung is used for several purposes which include fuel (dung cakes), fertilizer (farm yard manure), and plastering material (poor man’s cement).
    • Poverty alleviation: Animal rearing has important role in reducing rural poverty. Incidence of rural poverty is less in states like Punjab, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat, and Rajasthan where livestock accounts for a sizeable share of agricultural income as well as employment.
    • Nutritional Security: Livestock provides a number of products- milk and dairy products, eggs, meat, etc. that have high nutritional value than grains. Thus, the overall nutritional security is also safeguarded through animal rearing.
    • Gender Equity: Animal husbandry promotes gender equity. More than three-fourth of the labour demand in livestock production is met by women. The share of women employment in the livestock sector is around 90% in Punjab and Haryana where dairying is a prominent activity and animals are staffed.
    • Inclusive Growth: Livestock is more equitable than that of land. Small farmers possess more than half of the country's cattle as against 24% of land.


    • However, India’s livestock sector has many challenges- low productivity, animal diseases such as Foot and Mouth disease, lack of finance, socio-cultural conflicts regarding cattle trading (cow slaughter).
    • The extent to which the pro-poor potential of livestock can be harnessed would depend on how technology, institutions, policies and financial support address the constraints of the sector.
    • Government initiatives such as National Livestock Mission, Rashtriya Gokul Mission, etc. if implemented in letter and spirit would bring desirable result for the livestock sector.
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