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5/31/2020 11:19:40 PM
Dr. Parveen Kumar, Dr. Kunzang Lamo, Dr. D. Namgyal

India has achieved the unique distinction of being the world's largest milk producer, with 22 percent of global production, followed by the United States of America, China, Pakistan and Brazil. Since the 1970s, most of the expansion in milk production has been in South Asia, which is the main driver of milk production growth in the developing world. According to the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in the year 2018-19, in the country the total milk production stood at 187.7 million tonnes with a per capita availability of 394 gram per day. Uttar Pradesh is the highest milk producing state in India and has a share of more than 17% in the total milk production in India. Apart from being the largest milk producer, Uttar Pradesh also has the largest number of cows and buffaloes, which is more than 1.8 Crore. Gujarat is called as the milk bowl of India, while Haryana is called as the milk pail of India. Milk, rightly called as the complete food, holds an extremely crucial position in our daily intake. It is full of protein and nutrients that are absolutely essential for human growth at all stages of life. Milk is also an amazing source of many healthy nutrients like magnesium, calcium, riboflavin, vitamin A, folate, vitamin D, protein, healthy fats, etc. It provides instant energy to the body as it contains good quality proteins including non-essential and essential amino acids and fatty acids. The Indian Council of Medical Research states that an individual needs about 600-800 mg/day of calcium which increases to 1200 mg/day in pregnant and lactating mothers. Inadequate calcium intake for longer duration is responsible for Osteopenia and Osteoporosis. The best source of calcium is milk.
To highlight the importance of the contributions of the dairy sector to sustainability, economic development, livelihoods and nutrition and the nutritional value of milk the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations decided to celebrate the first day of June every year as ‘World Milk Day’. The day brings our attention to recognize the importance of this global food and how it is such an imperative part of our diet. World Milk Day was first celebrated about twenty years ago on June 1 each year since 2001. The day is intended to provide an opportunity to bring attention to activities that are connected with the dairy sector and to recognize the importance of milk as a global food. June 1 was chosen as the date because many countries were already celebrating a milk day during that time of year. It is celebrated in many countries like Columbia, Malaysia, Germany, Romania, USA, UAE, etc. Milk is at the centre throughout this day.
The livestock sector plays an important role in socio-economic development of the farming community in India. The same hold true for the farming community of Ladakh too. Livestock here is used as a source of nutrient-rich food products, draught power, dung as organic manure and domestic fuel, hides & skin, ensure food and nutritional security and are a regular source of cash income for rural households. It acts as natural capital which can be easily reproduced to act as a living bank with offspring as interest and an insurance against income shocks of crop failure and natural calamities. The major livestock resources of the region include Sheep and Goats, Yak, double humped Camel and Zanskari horse. The sheep breeds include Malluk and Merino Malluck hybrid; the goats include Changthangi goats famous for Pashmina wool. The Yak-Cattle cross (Dzo and Dzomo), the Dzo is kept for draught power and Dzomo for milk production. Dzo are preferred for ploughing because they are much harder than the local bull or the cattle-jersey bull; The female yak (Dzomo) is better milch animal as compared to local cow , milk is very rich having 7 – 12 per cent fat & 5 -6 per cent protein. Its milk is golden white in colour. In some areas, where the Dzomo cannot withstand the summer heat the cows are preferred. Here cows are of different breed than of plains and they can very well withstand the biting cold of winter months. The lactation period of cow and Dzomo is six and nine months respectively. Cows give three to four kg milk/day while as Dzomo produce five to six kg of milk/day. The calving period of cows is greater than Dzomo, in case of cows it is more than eighteen months but Dzomo reproduces almost every year.
Rearing livestock has resulted in women empowerment where rearing livestock forms an an integral part of the smallholder production systems thereby playing a major role in poverty alleviation and their socioeconomic development. Livestock helps the women to supplement family incomes and generating gainful advantages of employment in the tribal areas of this region. The importance of livestock in its fragile ecosystem goes beyond its traditional role of source of income. Since the area remains totally cut off from the entire country for almost half of the year, animal products like milk and meat play a significant role in ensuring nutritional security of the peoples’ in this region. According to the Economic Survey 2012-13, Govt. of Jammu and Kashmir the average per capita availability of milk in gram/day in Ladakh region stood at 378 gram per day. This was higher than the national average of 356.8 gram per day.
The livestock sector in this region faces some constraints. Most of the milch animals in this region are local breeds which do not have more yields. Studies have revealed the daily milking average from crossbred cows is 5.74 kg/day, 2.63 kg/day from dzomo 2.03 kg/day from yak and 1.8 kg/day from local cows. The region also faces a severe shortage of fodder during the winter season. Research studies reveal a shortage of 50 per cent of fodder requirements during the winter months. The department has also taken so many steps for improvement of livestock in the region. Introduction of crossbreed jersey in Leh by the department has been very successful and has brought a kind of white revolution in Leh. It has made cattle rearing very easy and highly profitable to the farmers. For preserving the genotype, department has got Zanskari Equine Breeding Farm at Chuchot. The Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) specialists have developed hybrid cows which produce more milk in high altitude area. They have cross-bred the region's famous yaks with high yielding Swiss cows to produce a new breed which can withstand extreme high altitudes.
This day provides an opportunity to focus attention on milk and milk products. On this all important day, all our efforts should be to increase public awareness about every aspect of natural milk such as the origin, nutritional value of milk and its products, its economic importance throughout the world and conservation of the huge diversity of the livestock species.
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