Monday, Nov 28, 2022

In Punjab: Tough trade rules, threat from cow protection groups add to dairy farmers’ woes

A GADVASU scientist speaking to The Indian Express said “it needs to be understood that a majority of stray cattle roaming in Punjab are not indigenous breeds but cross-bred ones who hold no religious value".

Cows GADVASU is flooded with farmers’ queries on how to deal with stray cattle and increasing infertility among the cattle, especially Holstein Friesian (HF) cross-bred.

A study undertaken by Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) says new rules on cattle transportation and trade of cows in Punjab has aggravated problems for dairy farmers with sinking inter-state cattle breeding trade, increasing infertility, stray cattle menace and bribery for getting transportation documents.

The Punjab Gau Sewa Commission says an estimated 1.6 lakh stray cattle are roaming the roads of Punjab .

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The extension department of Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU) is flooded with farmers’ queries on how to deal with stray cattle menace and increasing infertility among the cattle, especially Holstein Friesian (HF) cross-bred, and solutions to dispose them as now abandoning cows may also invite two years of jail term as per proposal of Gau Sewa Commission to the state government.

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The PAU study, conducted by the its department of business studies titled ‘Marketing Practices and Problems of Cattle Breeders in Punjab: With Special Reference to Inter State Trade Regulation, said that new documentation process for inter-state cattle transport, harassment by officials, reduced cattle prices due to less demand, threats to their lives from self-styled cow protection groups, etc. are the major problems which farmers in Punjab are facing currently.

Following the responses from 150 cattle breeders in Punjab, it was found that only 9 per cent of them participate in cattle fairs and exhibitions outside Punjab mainly due to the tedious process of getting certificate from deputy commissioner and vet officer (which takes almost 15-20 days).

“The state has 18.24 lakh female exotic/cross-bred cattle, of which 11.34 lakh are adult milch cows. Cattle buyers from neighbouring states and north-east states preferred purchasing of crossbred cows from Punjab. But a new amendment in inter-state cattle trade has restricted the cattle breeders from selling their cows to the neighbouring state farmers. Punjab farmers are losing market and prices of cattle have fallen,” said Gurbir Singh, a PhD scholar at PAU, who has co-authored the study with guide Assistant Professor Sukhmani.

With 80 per cent of cattle in Punjab being high maintenance cross-breeds, the state dairy farmers say they are facing a serious financial threat because of the continuing fall in the price of milch cattle. A farmer spends Rs 70,000 to 75,000 to produce a milch cow but the sale price has fallen from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 60,000.

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The farmers surveyed for the study also said they were losing up to 25 per cent of their income to extortion by self-styled cow protection groups, in giving bribes to officials, and the increased cost of transporting cattle.

A GADVASU scientist speaking to The Indian Express said “it needs to be understood that a majority of stray cattle roaming in Punjab are not indigenous breeds but cross-bred ones who hold no religious value”.

Farmers, he said, never abandoned indigenous breeds such as Gir, Sahiwal, Red Sindhi, Tharparkar.

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“Slaughtering is the only solution to tackle stray cattle menace. Most of stray cattle are HF cross-bred after they fail to conceive and turn infertile, and they are turning infertile because farmers are incurring losses and they are unable to meet their nutritional requirement. We have increased milk productivity to such high levels that once a cow does not get required nutrition, she starts getting infertile. Every farmer cannot afford

Rs 500 per day to raise an infertile animal. So he abandons it leading to more stray cattle menace,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“With the government policy being what it is, the university cannot come out openly in favour of cow slaughter,” he said.

Dr B K Bansal, head, medicine, GADVASU, said stray cattle can lead to serious diseases like brucellosis (leading to abortions among pregnant women) which can spread from animals to humans.

“Cross -bred are facing more reproductive failures leading to losses for farmers. Thus, we are promoting indigenous breeds like Sahiwal,” he said.

First published on: 14-03-2016 at 09:34:52 am
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