Holy cow! Best desi cattle breed to get Rs 5 lakh award


NEW DELHI: Farmers and gaushalas maintaining the best herd of desi cows can now get a Rs 5 lakh cash award as the Narendra Modi government is putting a premium on indigenous breeds of cattle to produce more milk.

The Centre has asked all states to send in nominations of individual farmers, gaushalas or cow shelters, and breeders’ societies by March 31, and 30 awards of Rs 5 lakh, Rs 3 lakh and Rs 1 lakh will be given out in November on National Milk Day. The government has blamed its predecessors for not investing in programmes to develop and conserve India’s own 39 recognised cow breeds, which has resulted in 74% of desi cows remaining uncovered by artificial insemination.

A big plan is in the works to select 500 “high productive” bulls and use advanced reproduction techniques with select indigenous cows to produce “7,000 super elite cows”, which in turn will help upgrade 5 million indigenous cattle each year, Devendra Chaudhary, secretary of department of animal husbandry and fisheries, told ET.

The Centre will start sending SMS through National Informatics Centre to 1 lakh officials across India next week to spread the message.

On target are Indian cow breeds such as Sahiwal in Punjab, Rathi in Rajasthan and Gir in Gujarat. Some other indigenous cow breeds are near extinction. The Centre has come up with ‘Gopal Ratna’ and ‘Kamadhenu’ cash awards to reward and motivate individual farmers and trusts, gaushalas and non-governmental organisations that maintain the best “true to breed” indigenous cows, adopt scientific management techniques and report increase in milk production.

The government believes indigenous cows are more resilient to Indian climate and can handle thermal stress better than exotic crossbred ones. The US, Brazil and Australia have imported India’s indigenous cows even as successive governments here ignored them, officials said.

Apart from the 40 recognised indigenous cow breeds in India, there are many non-descript cattle breeds completely out of the ambit of artificial insemination. “We plan to use select 2,000 bulls to produce 10 million upgraded cattle of such breeds every year through assistive reproduction. This will be a big game changer,” Chaudhary said.