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Rashtriya Gokul Mission

  • 28 Oct 2023
  • 6 min read

For Prelims: Rashtriya Gokul Mission, Sahiwal, Tharparkar, Red Sindhi, National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI), Krishi Vigyan Kendra , White Revolution, Jersey.

For Mains: Significance of promoting indigenous cattle breeds and their impact on employment generation and economic growth.

Source: DTE

Why in News?

With almost a decade into Rashtriya Gokul Mission, it is found that instead of improving the quality of all the indigenous breeds, as envisioned under the scheme, it has ended up promoting only one indigenous variety, the Gir cow, across the country.

What is the Issue With Rashtriya Gokul Mission?

  • Prominence of Gir Cow in Rashtriya Gokul Mission:
    • India's Rashtriya Gokul Mission, established in 2014, initially designed to research and develop high-quality semen for various indigenous bovine varieties, the mission has primarily focused on Gir cows and not much on other breeds.
      • This preference for Gir cows stems from their milk production and adaptability to different regions.
  • Impact on Livestock Numbers:
    • The 2019 livestock census showed a 70% increase in purebred Gir cows since 2013. In contrast, other indigenous breeds like Sahiwal and Hariana have not experienced similar growth, with some even witnessing a decline in numbers.
      • This trend raises concerns about the loss of diversity in indigenous cattle breeds in India.

What are the Issues with Indigenous Gir Cow Breed?

  • Inconsistent Performance of Graded Gir Cows:
    • Contrary to the growing obsession with Gir cows, research reveals that graded Gir cows (a crossbreed between Gir and other nondescript varieties) do not consistently outperform indigenous breeds in many states.
      • For example, in Haryana, there is no evidence of increased milk production in graded Gir cows.
      • East Rajasthan has reported lower milk production in graded Gir cows compared to indigenous varieties, leading to farmer complaints about shorter lactation periods and reduced daily milk yields.
      • However, in west Rajasthan, graded Gir cows perform better due to favorable climatic conditions.
  • Factors Beyond Adaptation to Microclimates:
    • The performance of graded Gir cows is influenced by factors beyond their adaptability to microclimatic conditions. For instance, Gir cows thrive in herds, and their milk production decreases when raised in isolation.
      • Without adequate resources and support, these cows can become a liability for farmers. This was evident in a previous case in Vidarbha.

What Solutions Can be Adopted ?

  • Emphasis on Genetically Superior Indigenous Cows:
    • Experts suggest a shift from the current focus on a few high-yielding bovine varieties to identifying and breeding genetically superior cows from among indigenous breeds.
      • Maharashtra's animal husbandry department conducted a successful experiment in 2012-14 by delivering semen from genetically superior indigenous breeds to farms, showcasing the potential of this approach.
  • Long-Term Prospects of Indigenous Bovine Varieties:
    • India boasts a diverse cow population, each adapted to specific regions. Continuous crossbreeding could lead to the extinction of region-specific traits in graded varieties.
      • For instance, crossbreeding Badri cows from Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand with Gir cows may increase milk production but could alter their physiology, which need to be avoided.
  • Lessons from the Past and Future Goals:
    • Experts caution against repeating the mistakes of the White Revolution, which imported exotic breeds like Jersey for crossbreeding with Indian varieties.
      • While this increased milk production, it did not necessarily lead to higher income for livestock rearers, as crossbred cows were more susceptible to diseases and required more care.

What is Rashtriya Gokul Mission?

  • About:
    • It is being implemented for development and conservation of indigenous bovine breeds since December 2014.
    • The scheme is also continued under umbrella scheme Rashtriya Pashudhan Vikas Yojna from 2021 to 2026 with a budget outlay of Rs.2400 crore.
  • Nodal Ministry:
    • Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying
  • Objectives:
    • To enhance productivity of bovines and increase milk production in a sustainable manner using advanced technologies.
    • To propagate use of high genetic merit bulls for breeding purposes.
    • To enhance Artificial insemination coverage through strengthening breeding network and delivery of Artificial insemination services at farmers doorstep.
    • To promote indigenous cattle & buffalo rearing and conservation in a scientific and holistic manner.

What are the Related Schemes for the Livestock Sector?

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Years Question (PYQ)

Prelims

Q.1 Consider the following crops of India: (2012)

  1. Cowpea
  2. Green gram
  3. Pigeon pea

Which of the above is/are used as pulse, fodder and green manure?

(a) 1 and 2 only 
(b) 2 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Ans: (a)

Q. 2 Livestock rearing has a big potential for providing non-farm employment and income in rural areas. Discuss suggesting suitable measures to promote this sector in India. (2015)

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