India isthe second most populated country in the world, with nearly a fifth of the world’s population and is projectedto be the world’smost populous country by2022, surpassing the population of China.
So food production to feed this hugepopulation is a challenging task. About 56 percent of the arable landsin India completely rely on rain (GOI, 2010), having chances of crop failure bydrought and flood, in these circumstances livestock serve as buffer stock aswell as an effective hedge against income fluctuation, for an average ruralfarmer (Fatchamps et al. 1998).
Livestock are considered as mobile bank,with calves as the interest, acts as shock absorber for any income fluctuationdue to crop failure to the rural poor farmers. Livestock sector is an importantsubsector of the agriculture of Indian economy. It forms an importantlivelihood activity for most of the farmers, supporting agriculture in the formof critical inputs, contributing to the health and nutrition of the household,supplementing incomes, offering employment opportunities, and finally being adependable “bank on hooves” in times of need.
It acts as a supplementary andcomplementary enterprise (DAHDF, 2016-17). They have been aptly called as oneof the best insurance against vagaries of nature like flood, famine, droughtand natural calamities. With512 million livestock heads, India accounts for largest livestock population inthe world. It has 56.
7 % of world’s buffaloes, 12.5% cattle, 20.4% smallruminants, 2.4% camel, 1.4% equine, 1.
5% pig & 3.1% poultry (DAHD,2014). Livestock sector contributes nearly 25.6% of the value of output inagriculture, fishery and forestry sector. India ranks 1st in buffalopopulation and milk production, 2nd in cattle and goat population, 3rdin sheep, 5th in chicken and duck population. Despite being one ofthe leading country in terms of livestock population and production sector themilk productivity of native breeds is very low (2.
54 kg milk/day) when comparedwith exotic breeds (7.15 kg/day) (BAHS, 2015). India’s livestock productivity is 20-60 per centlower than the global average (AHD Report, 2012-17)The growth in the milk production remained stagnant formore than two decades after independence (around 1% per annum) whereas thegrowth of population was closer to 2% (BAHS, 2014).
Day by day the gap betweendemand and production is widening. Substantial increment in milk production wasachieved with the launch of a nationwide dairy development programme (operationflood) in the year 1970 (Gautam et. al., 2010). It has been estimatedthat demand of milk will rise to 156 million tons by 2020 (Parthasarathy etal., 2004). Estimates by the Planning Commission of India indicate stillhigher demand increase i.e.
182 million tons by the year 2021–22.Coming to availability, per capita availability of eggsin India has also increased from just 5 eggs per annum in 1950-51 to 58 eggsper annum in 2012-13 which is still far below the ICMR recommendation of 365eggs/ annum. The availability of meat in India is only about 15g/person/dayagainst the ICMR recommendation of 30g/person/day (Islam et al.
, 2016)Milk and meat production status of Indian livestock is20-60 percent lesser than the world average (GOI, 2012). Achieving foodsecurity from livestock by increasing the number of livestock is a constraintbecause of scarcity of feed-fodder and pressure on natural resources like land,water, air and biodiversity etc. By overcoming these traditional mindset withsome innovative approaches like farm mechanization e.g. precision animalhusbandry; adoption of improved technologies and scientific interventions like adoptionof A.I practices in livestock; changing farming style from cow farming, goatfarming to integrated or diversified farming, to defeat the problem of less land poly house farming practices etc. aresome of the solutions.
In this aspect extension programmes and provision of needbased trainings have the immense potential to make people aware of thoseinnovations and to practice the same for better benefits from the same sort ofland. Because an extension agent can act as a liaison between research centerswhere technologies are being developed and the intended users the farmers whoare supposed to use the technologies and get benefit out of it. The term ‘extension’ mean ‘advisory and other services’that help rural families to make the best possible use of the productiveresources at their disposal (Katz 2002). Mattee, 1994 pointed out that “it istruism to state that the effective transmission of research findings to farmersis essential if research efforts are to contribute to agricultural progress”. Livestockextension services to the farmers have the potential to play the key role inimproving livestock productivity and making the livestock sector competitive inthe liberalized economy.
Livestock extension service includes transfer oftechnology and also strengthening of locally relevant innovation systems;advisory service; the provision of access to a range of services that includeinput and output markets; and the strengthening and support of farmers’organizations (Chander et al. 2010)