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Milk and milk product is the inseparable part of our food coffer and production is on upswing curve. In our country,milk production went up 59% from 92 million tonnes in 2005 to 146 million tonnes in 2015 which is 17% of the global production. But shrinking fodder vegetation is casting shadow over its preeminence as largest milk producer in the world. Livestock population in India increased from 280 million in 1947 to an estimated 467 million in 1997 while permanent pasture and grazing land has decreased from 70 million hectares in 1947 to 38 million hectares. The substitution of cereal crops with cash crops has further depleted the stock of dry fodder. The cattle population alone in India is 199 millions.

The lack of green fodder has substantially diminished the productivity of milk both in terms of quality and quantity which can be gauged from comparative statistics. The milk productivity of India’s livestock is less than half (48%) of the global average: 987 kg per lactation compared to the global average of 2,038 kg per lactation.

The picture is grim in West Bengal. While top milk producing states like Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab earmarked 10% of its land as pasture/fodder land, West Bengal offers hardly any grazing space as well as fodder land for this livestock. We implement 20-25 lakh schemes annually under MGNREGA, but unfortunately no pasture land development scheme gets place in the self of schemes! In 2014-15, even in the IPPE model, not a single scheme got berth in the scheme basket. Subsequent years went through the same dilemma. In the western districts, unproductive and fallow land could have housed these fodder species like subabul,nepier, stylo, dinanath, vetiver under MGNREGA. Even in the alluvial districts , nayanjuli, canal-bank might have been identified to promote fodder. Perennial Nepier grass Co-5 is the most nutritious variety having lifetime of 5 years and eight cutting cycle in a year after initial 60 days.

Spurred by rising incomes, growing population and changing food preferences, the demand for milk and milk products will grow to at least 210 million tonnes by 2021–22, a rise of 36% over five years, according to government estimates. The fodder need and supply mismatch will be sky rocketing and if this gap is not plan-fully plugged, within four years , India will be milk importing country falling from the grace of highest milk producer. As 70% of milk producers in India are small and marginal farmer, fodder scheme may also be provided to them in IBS mode apart from community plantation as suggested earlier under MGNREGA.

Concern Parliamentary Standing Committee apart from erstwhile Planning Commission has stressed the need to lend credence to pasture land development to save the country from its doomsday in milk hegemony. Be it be through current planning exercise in Bengal.