Importance of Dairy Farming
Dairy farming forms a very important production activity especially in villages for the following reasons:
- Production of highly nutritious food materials. Milk and milk products form the most important and best source of animal protein in the food for human beings. Milk is a nearly complete food supporting better growth rate, and is very important in the diet for growing children, the sick and the elderly.
- Dairy animals utilize cheap roughages, which are not directly utilized by men, in order to produce high quality food materials such as milk and meat. Besides effective utilization of household and agricultural wastes and byproducts, dairying also minimizes the problems of waste disposal.
- Dairying provides employment to a considerable proportion of population, especially to women. For most farmers involved in crop production, dairying forms a subsidiary occupation. Moreover, surplus family labour can be effectively utilized. When large volume of milk is made available, its processing and manufacturing of various milk products can generate employment opportunities on a large scale.
- High market demand for milk makes its disposal easier, and makes dairying a source of regular cash income. Unlike crop production, seasonal fluctuations are minimal for milk price, and it gives subsistence income for farmers during the off seasons of crop production.
- Major groups of farmers involved in dairying are small farmers and agricultural laborers. Hence, it is an occupation of the poor and landless people providing them a means for “landless agriculture”. Dairying also plays a vital role in improving the nutritional status of their families.
Advantages of Dairy Farming
Dairying is complementary to agriculture, and has got a number of advantages over agriculture and other occupations. Some of the major advantages are follows:
- Highly nutritious food materials are produced from cheap roughage and concentrates, which are other-wise unutilized. Grasses, and straw form the major roughage, and concentrates fed to dairy animals consist of oil cakes and agricultural by-products like bran. These items are not used for human consumption, hence it does not cause any competition with human beings for food items. Dairy animals being ruminants have highest efficiency of utilizing roughage, and in return they produce highly nutritious food items such as milk and meat.
- Dairy farming is mutually integrated with crop agriculture, utilizing the by-products of crops and providing highly valuable manure or bio-fertilizer for conserving soil fertility, and thus supporting crop production. Manure adds organic compounds to the soil, which helps to maintain humus aeration and growth of beneficial micro-flora in the soil. Through grazing or addition of dung, nutrients lost from the soil are made up, and soil fertility is conserved.
- Milk and meat being highly nutritious, food materials contain all the essential nutrients required to support maximum growth rate. House-hold production of milk improves nutritional status of family members, provides manure for household cultivation, utilizes house-hold wastes and, enables effective utilization of leisure time of the family members.
- Milk and milk products have good market demand, especially in urban areas enabling easy marketing. Surplus milk produced in villages can be easily converted into milk products which have good nutritive value and are on demand. Hence, the producer will not have much problem for marketing products of dairying.
- Initial investment required for starting a small dairy unit (household dairying) is small and there are a number of agencies providing financial support for a dairy enterprise. Hence, it is easy to start a dairy enterprise as a means of sustainable employment.
- The unemployment problem is more acute in rural areas, and dairying being rural-based provides better employment opportunities in villages either in the form of milk production or allied product units. One or two cows/buffaloes can be maintained even with minimum land availability. Hence, it can be accepted as a means of livelihood for the unemployed youth, elderly, and women.
- While income from most of the crops is seasonal, income from dairying can be obtained throughout the year, thus forming a source of subsistence income around the year to eliminate the seasonal scarcity of agricultural activities.
- For agriculture laborers, employment during non-crop seasons can be ensured through dairy animal production.
- Dairying acts as insurance against crop failure since even if the crops fail due to some unforeseen factors, dairying helps the farmer to earn a reasonable amount of income, and thus compensates for the loss to some extent.
- Animal forms a type of readily disposable asset which can be used in case of an emergency enabling rapid multiplication of capital.
The animals are low-yielding, non-descript ones; and, land holdings are small. By any yardstick, this is a remarkable feat. The success of India’s dairy industry is not a story of the triumph of science and technology. There have been no miracles. The White Revolution was possible because we created structures that give our farmers control over the resources they create. The rural poor are mostly powerless. They do not have assets. They are illiterate and unorganized.
- Basha, S. A. (2016). Cost benefit analysis of dairy farmers and dairy units in cooperative and private sectors.