India: Low costs prove their worth

Farmers Weekly rounds up a year’s news through the eyes of farmers across the globe. Today we hear from Ricky Thaper in India

Ricky Thaper is a poultry farming consultant and spokesman for the Poultry Federation of India.

India is emerging strongly as a major livestock production centre. It is the largest milk producer – accounting for more than 13% of the world’s total milk production – fifth-ranked broiler producer and fourth-ranked egg producer in the world.

Economic parameters are in India’s favour – the country is the second-lowest-cost broiler producer, lowest-cost egg producer and the lowest-cost milk producer.

However, the methods of dairy production are traditional, meat consumption has a religious bias and basic infrastructure such as cold chain, transport, processing facilities and storage are lacking.

Key facts

Population 1.2 billion

Average rainfall (a year) from 313mmm in the north-west to 3,456mm in the south-west

Agricultural area 180m ha

India is the world’s largest milk producer, producing 121.7m tonnes/year

India produced 12.5m tonnes of soya beans and 18m tonnes of corn this year. But due to a worldwide shortage, major quantities of these ingredients have been exported at international prices, resulting in higher costs during 2012.

The poultry sector has been growing at about 8-10% annually over the past decade. The key challenges it faces are high feed costs, oversupply, inadequate cold chain and transportation infrastructure. And feed prices are going up due to poor harvests worldwide.

Milk production has quadrupled from 23m tonnes in 1973 to 121.7m tonnes in 2011 – almost 100% of which is consumed within India, making it the world’s largest consumer of dairy products.

The Indian dairy industry has a remarkable annual growth rate of 4.5%, against the world’s average of about 1%. An increase in feed ingredient prices has pushed up production costs, however, so dairy farmers’ margins have been slashed this year.

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