India Budget 2019 | Cow welfare gets leg up with primacy on dairy economy

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on July 5 underlined the government’s intent to accord primacy to cattle conservation.

“We will invest widely in agricultural infrastructure. We will support private entrepreneurships in driving value-addition to farmers’ produce from the field and for those from allied activities, like Bamboo and timber from the hedges and for generating renewable energy. Annadata can also be Urjadata.

“Dairying through cooperatives shall also be encouraged by creating infrastructure for cattle feed manufacturing, milk procurement, processing & marketing. I place my appreciation for our farmers who have made India self-sufficient in pulses. I am sure they will repeat such a success even in the production of oilseeds. Our import bill shall be reduced by their Seva,” Sitharaman said.

In the Interim Budget for 2019-20 presented on February 1, 2019, the government had allocated Rs 500 crore  to the Kamdhenu Aayog.

Days later the Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi had approved the proposal for establishment of the body for “conservation protection and development of cows and their progeny”.

The government now plans to establish a network of mobile veterinary dispensaries to provide doorstep services to farmers under the scheme. It will also expand the coverage of immunisation of cattle and eliminate food and mouth disease and brucellosis.

There is also a plan to launch a National Feed and Fodder Mission to deal with the persistent problem of fodder shortage.

According to the government, the Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog “will work in collaboration with veterinary, Animal Sciences or Agriculture University or departments or organizations of the Central/State Government engaged in the task of research in the field of breeding and rearing of cow, organic manure, biogas, etc”.

Cow welfare in India has entered India’s mainstream political lexicon in recent times amid growing incidents of cow vigilantism. Shortly after assuming power, the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh announced setting up of 1,000 cow shelters across the state.

Rising incidents of stray cattle destroying crops have also added to the issue’s importance, with many governments struggling to build cow shelters amid growing protests by farmers to project their crops from stray cattle.

The UP government has also imposed a Gau Kalyan cess to raise funds to create cow shelters.

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