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There's a cattle, donkey or some livestock for every 2nd Indian

Posted on Sep 03 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, Sep 3 : India has the largest livestock population in the world -- so much so that there is almost one such farm animal for every second Indian, as per the latest Census released by the Ministry of Agriculture Wednesday, the 19th in the series.

India's total livestock population comprising cattle, buffalo, sheep, goat, pigs, yaks, ponies, horses, mules, donkeys, camels and mithun was 512 million in 2012 -- a marginal decrease of around 3.33 percent over the previous Livestock Census of 2007.

For the record, India's human population is estimated at 1.2 billion.

A Planning Commission report says livestock in India is distributed over more than 100 million households in approximately 600,000 villages, with Indian farmers stocking even little known animals like yak and mithun in the seemingly insignificant backyard.

The country, a few years ago, was ranked first in cattle and buffalo population, second in respect of goat and third in respect of sheep. In fact, the country is said to have 57 percent of the world's buffalo and 16 percent of the global cattle population.

Despite the drop at the national level, some states saw an increase in livestock.

It increased substantially by 15.36 percent in Gujarat, 14 percent in Uttar Pradesh, 10.7 percent in Assam, 9.6 percent in Punjab, 8.6 percent in Bihar, 7.9 percent in Sikkim, 7.4 percent in Meghalaya and 4.3 percent in Chhattisgarh (4.34 percent).

"The number of milch animals (both in-milk and dry), cows and buffaloes, has increased from 111.09 million to 118.59 million -- an increase of 6.75 percent," said the Census report.

Interestingly, the exotic, crossbred milch cattle increased from 14.4 million to 19.42 million, up 34.78 percent, while for indigenous milch cattle, the increase was rather nominal at 0.17 percent at 48.1 million.

"Livestock contributes 25 percent of gross value-added in the agriculture sector and provides self-employment to about 21 million people," says ongoing 12th Five Year Plan document.

In fact, the contribution of livestock to the country's gross domestic product is also significant at around 5 percent.

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