The livestock sector awaits the injection of funds
Livestock is emerging as a promising sector for Kerala in the post-COVID-19 era and the state budget should pay more attention to changing trends in the sector, experts say.
“There are huge opportunities for entrepreneurship, start-ups, farmer-producer organizations and transformation in the livestock sector. Many young people, including non-resident Indians and those who lost their jobs during the lockdown, are venturing into the sector,” says A. Kowsigan, Director of the Department of Livestock.
Home Veterinary Services
The pet boom during the COVID-19 period offers many opportunities for the pet care industry. There is a growing demand for clinics and other peripherals. Farmers often struggle to get livestock to clinics due to transportation obstacles. Home veterinary services have a huge reach, adds Dr. Kowsigan.
Animal husbandry, dairy farming and poultry production have seen dramatic growth over the past two years. Milk production increased by 30% during this period.
Food expenditure on the rise
“Post-COVID, food expenditures have increased in both rural and urban areas of the country. Expenditure on food, which accounted for about 40% of daily income, increased to 50% and 52% respectively in rural and urban areas. There was a marginal increase of 2% in spending on animal protein sources like milk, meat, eggs. Expenditure on animal protein sources accounts for 28% of total food expenditure in rural areas; while in urban areas it has risen to 30%,” says TP Sethumadhavan, former director of KVASU (Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University).
Currently, the state procures 30% of the milk needs of neighboring states. The supply of chicken, eggs and meat from neighboring states amounts to 40%, 80% and 60% respectively.
“Every year, Kerala imports livestock products and inputs such as animal feed worth ₹26,000 crore. Kerala can achieve sustainability in the production of livestock products,” says the Dr Sethumadhavan.
The budget is expected to incorporate projects worth ₹4,500 crore per year for the sector, of which ₹1,000 crore can be project grants from the central government, ₹3,000 crore through bank loans and ₹500 crore through decentralized planning, he suggests.
A marginal increase of 3% in spending on livestock, poultry and fish products was seen compared to agricultural products such as cereals, pulses, fruits and vegetables. Spending on ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook livestock and agricultural products has also increased during the post-COVID phase. Immunity boosters, including probiotics and fermented milk products, increased by 5-6% during the post-COVID phase, says B. Sunil, Professor, Head of Meat Technology, KVASU.
At a time when many opportunities are emerging in the livestock sector, effectively positioning the sector can create many job opportunities and facilitate self-sufficiency in livestock products in the state, experts note.