LIVESTOCK POPULATION IN INDIA
Owing to its diverse physical and climatic conditions and vegetation, India has a varied and rich fauna. The country is endowed with the largest livestock population in the world. There are about 500 species of animals and 3,000 species of birds in the country. Some of them are domesticated so as to get various benefits from them, while others are included in wildlife. India's livestock resources have considerable traits of adaptability to withstand environmental stress.
According to the Livestock Census of 2003, the country has about 18.5 crore cattle and 9.8 crore buffaloes and compared to 15.5 crore cattle and 4.3 crore buffaloes in 1951. India accounts for 57 per cent of the world's buffalo population and 15 per cent of the cattle population.
During Five Year Plans, several measures have been initiated by the government to increase the productivity of livestock, which has resulted in significant increase in the
Livestock sector not only provides essential protein and nutritious human diet through milk, eggs, meat, etc., but also plays an important role in utilisation of non-edible agricultural by-products. Livestock also provides raw material/by products such as hides and skins, blood, bone, fat, etc.
The contribution of livestock sector to the food basket in the form of milk, eggs and meat has been immense in fulfilling the animal protein requirement of ever-growing human population. The present availability of human protein in an Indian diet is 10 gm per person per day, as against a world average of 25 gm. However, keeping in view the growing population, the animal protein availability has to increase at least two-fold for maintaining the nutritional level of growing children and nursing mothers in India.
The Indian livestock population has the potential to yield much higher economic returns than what it is giving at present, but unscientific and unhygienic conditions of production, shortage of nutritious fodder, harsh climatic conditions, lack of proper storage and marketing facilities etc., are certain hindrances in the way.