Livestock entrepreneurship attracts educated youth

By GHP Raju

Skills training programs are not readily accepted by young people until they know that employment is secure. Through the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), the Department of Labor has conducted vocational training programs and taught conventional skills in the professional roles listed by the PMKVY to approximately fifteen thousand local youth over the past three years. Although about two thousand young people have obtained placements or been oriented towards self-employment through the PMKVY 2.0 skills programs, the success does not match the investments made under the program. The “employability gap” between the skills acquired and the job vacancies in the markets is essential when formulating future action plans under the PMKVY 3.0. The livestock sector offers enormous opportunities for qualification, retraining and further training under the PMKVY 3.0 and offers enormous employability opportunities for trained young people in our state.
Livestock management and entrepreneurship is a window of opportunity that educated youth should seriously explore. I see many opportunities for livestock entrepreneurship in our state which include: (1) meat production and export to neighboring countries under the Act East policy of the Government of India; (2) the creation of a class of para-veterinary personnel to deal with the vaccination, insemination and animal insurance needs of breeders; (3) the emergence of cattle and pig farmers; (4) Commercial poultry and goat farms. (5). Cattle feed manufacturing plants; (6) Meat kiosks, etc., to name just a few economic opportunities.
Livestock entrepreneurship requires professional skills, technological literacy and capital. Unfortunately, there are very few professionally run private breeding farms in our state. Conventional breeding farms are available primarily under the Department of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Medicine. Commercial breeding and ranching farms for cattle, pigs, goats, poultry and meat processing units have not yet been plentiful in our state due to lack of awareness of subsidy programs. focus on farmers introduced by the government of India, non – availability of appropriate training programs related to animal husbandry, inability to raise capital from banks, and expensive feed, etc.
The educated youth of our state have yet to harness the employment potential of our state’s ranching. The estimated annual demand for animal products in Meghalaya is as follows:

In Meghalaya, the range goes from Rs 2,200 crore at farm gate price and around Rs 5,000 crore at market price. At present, the ever increasing local demand for meat and meat products cannot be met by local production. The State has a significant pent-up demand that will have to be filled, while waiting for certain imports to be inevitable. About a lakh of piglets and roughly the same number of cattle are imported each year from other states like West Bengal, Bihar, UP, Punjab and Assam. Although there is a huge demand for goats in Bangladesh, raising goats for export has yet to be taken over by the state or private entrepreneurs.
Commercial meat production involves establishing livestock farms, building sheds, providing water and electricity, food management, and financial literacy. As part of the National Livestock Mission (NLM), the Government of India offers substantial grants for the construction of pigsties, goat barns and henhouses to potential entrepreneurs. An expression of interest notice (EOI) has already been given, soliciting applications from educated farmers and young people intending to venture into the commercial livestock sector. As part of the Rashtriya Gokul (RGM) mission, the central government is also offering grants for the construction of cattle multiplier farms for the commercial production of cattle by artificial insemination (AI) with exotic cattle breeds such as Sahiwal bulls, Gir, HF, Ongole and others. The Breeding and Veterinary Department purchased exotic Holstein Friesian (HF) bulls from Germany and Ongole bulls from Andhra Pradesh for crossbreeding with our local cattle. HF cows produce ten to fifteen liters of milk per day and are inducted into dairy cooperative societies as part of the Milk Mission. Ongole bulls gain around 500kg in weight in around 48 months and are known for their resistance to disease. With the capital expenditure subsidy programs under the NLM and the RGM, the introduction of high quality breeding bulls by the Department, the Meghalaya cattle landscape in milk and meat production is expected to change in about three years. Educated youth need to venture into livestock management and entrepreneurship to take full advantage of these rapid developments in the sector.
To begin with, there is a convergence between two departments – Work and Animal & Livestock. Livestock management training programs will be organized under the PMKVY-3.0 program by the Department of Labor, and financial support to establish livestock farms, meat processing units, etc. will be provided. by the Department of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Medicine. Thus, with adequate skills in agricultural, livestock and financial management, young people will soon be ready to become producers and suppliers of meat.
Women in the state manage around 85% of the rural backyard livestock in the villages. Backyard farming can meet the immediate consumption needs of rural households, but the qualification, retraining and upgrading of educated women will help increase local meat production and bridge the gap between demand and supply. . This would therefore be another vertical worthy of consideration.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister announced a 15,000 crore Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) as part of the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan Stimulus Plan to incent investment from individual entrepreneurs, private companies , MSMEs, Agricultural Producer Organizations (OPF) and Section 8 companies to establish (i) dairy processing and value-added infrastructure, (ii) meat processing and value-added infrastructure and (iii) animal feed factories. In addition, the National Livestock Mission and Rashtriya Gokul Mission provide grants for the construction of commercial barns, and PMKVY 3.0 offers livestock entrepreneurship. With these positive and empowering livestock-related interventions, the livestock ecosystem is poised to take off in the state, but we need educated youth to venture into commercial farming.
Another critical area that requires immediate attention is the manufacturing of cattle feed. Within the framework of the NLM and the AHIDF, adequate funds are made available for the establishment of animal feed factories by individuals, cooperative societies, etc. There are many self-employment opportunities in the manufacture of animal feed for young people in our state. As corn and soybeans are the main ingredients in livestock feed, farmers will benefit. The cost of feeding livestock will drop dramatically if the raw material is available locally. Currently, livestock feed is expensive and unrewarding for farmers.
The cooperation department is reaching out to dairy cooperative societies and pig cooperative societies for interest-free loans under dairy mission and pig mission to improve milk and pig production in our state. No less than 102 dairy cooperative societies and around 85 pig cooperative societies have already signed up for these two missions. It is heartwarming to know that over 60% of the members of these cooperative societies are women. Therefore, local banks are encouraged to provide working capital loans to dairy cooperative societies.
The livestock department has several other initiatives in the works: a poultry mission with a proposed investment of Rs. 121 Crore, a Goatery mission with Rs. 75 crore investment. In addition, a proposal to establish goat and sheep farms in Saitsama, West Jaintia Hills and Nongshillong, West Khasi Hills district, at an estimated cost of Rs 25 crore, has already been put forward.
Educated youth should not miss these opportunities to engage in livestock-related entrepreneurship. But are they ready?
(The author is the Principal Secretary, AH & Veterinary, Govt of Meghalaya)

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