Govt moves to set up fodder-centric farmer producer organisations

TWO YEARS after the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying proposed the formation and promotion of fodder-centric Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) to address the fodder deficit, the government has designated the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) as the implementing agency, setting a target of 100 such FPOs in 2022-23.

In its order on November 4, the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare said: “The competent authority in the Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare has approved to designate NDDB as implementing agency under the scheme of formation and promotion of 10,000 Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) to form and promote FPOs, primarily fodder centric, and animal husbandry activities as a secondary activity (fodder plus model)… NDDB has been assigned to form 100 FPOs during 2022-23 within the contours of the scheme guidelines.”

This comes a month after The Indian Express reported that the Wholesale Price Index-based fodder inflation soared to a nine-year high of 25.5 per cent in August 2022 and highlighted the hardships faced by rural families whose livelihoods are dependent on livestock. The reports, published in two parts on October 3 and 4, also highlighted how the government’s plan to create 100 fodder FPOs, under its ambitious scheme of setting up 10,000 FPOs, had remained on paper.

On October 6, Animal Husbandry Secretary Rajesh Kumar Singh chaired a meeting to take stock of the fodder situation in the country, in which the states informed the Centre that the prices of dry fodder were significantly higher as compared to last year. The meeting was attended by senior central government officials, including those from the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, and representatives of at least 14 states – Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

The idea of setting up fodder-centric FPOs was first mooted by the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying in 2020, with the aim to address the fodder deficit situation in the country.

The high fodder inflation has a direct impact on rural livelihoods. According to the National Statistical Office report, ‘Situation Assessment of Agricultural Households and Land and Livestock Holdings of Households in Rural India, 2019’, 48.5 per cent of the total 17.24 crore rural households (or an estimated 8.37 crore) reported owning cattle ‘in milk’, young cattle and cattle in ‘others’ category during July-December 2018. Further, 43.8 per cent of the total 9.3 crore agricultural households used green fodder, 52.4 per cent dry fodder, 30.4 per cent concentrates, and 12.5 per cent other animal feed during the period.

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