India is now the world’s biggest milk producer, having overtaken the European Union over the last 12 months, according to the latest edition of the government’s annual economic survey.
Recording a year-on-year growth rate of just over 4%—almost double that of the rest of the world—India saw 132.4m tonnes of peak milk production from 2012-13, making it the biggest global producer.
"The average year-on-year growth rate of milk at 4.04% via-a-vis the world average of 2.2% shows sustained growth in availability of milk and milk products for the growing population," the survey said, adding that the commodity has become an important secondary source of income for 70m rural households.
Major producer in multiple segments
The economic survey, which is compiled each year by the Ministry of Finance, reviews developments in the Indian economy over the previous 12 months, summarising the performance of major development programmes, and highlighting government policy initiatives and the prospects of the economy in the short- to medium-term.
According to the document, India is also the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables, the largest producer of mangos, bananas, coconuts, cashews, papayas and pomegranates, and the largest producer and exporter of spices.
The country also ranks second in terms of world fish production, contributing about 5.4% to global production, with an estimated 9.45m tonnes of catch.
But it is in milk where the government has seen the biggest change, which the report attributes to a policy launched in 2012 to improve productivity, expand infrastructure and provide producers with closer access to the market.
The first phase of the National Dairy Plan began at a time when India had seen the number of milch animals increase from 62m in 2000 to over 83m.
Elsewhere, the report highlighted that the government’s focus for the next year would be on strengthening the poultry system. Egg production was around 70bn in 2013, while the report estimated poultry meat production at 2.68m tonnes.
Limited competitive marketing
In a side note, the survey singled out agricultural marketing practices as an area with need of considerable improvement.
“There has been limited success in establishing efficient agricultural marketing practices in India,” it said. “The monopoly of government-regulated wholesale markets has prevented development of a competitive marketing system in the country.
“In the context of liberalisation of trade in agricultural commodities and for the domestic farming community to reap the benefits of new global market access opportunities, there is a need to integrate and strengthen the internal agricultural marketing system.”
To overcome this issue, the report advised the easing of control over agricultural markets by the state. This, it said, would “facilitate greater participation of the private sector, particularly to stimulate massive investments required for the development of agricultural marketing”.