MUMBAI: Maharashtra’s long-time obsession with crossbred or foreign varieties of cows is set to change to a preference for pure desi bovine varieties.

The state government will soon start centres to conserve and increase the number of indigenous breeds of cows. Three centres have been finalised in Amravati, Pune and Palghar where indigenous varieties like the Gir, Khillari and Goulav will be purchased and housed. Besides providing the cows best-in-class nutrition and health facilities, new techniques of insemination will be attempted to boost the fertility of these animals.

The move is part of the state government’s cow welfare policy—it has already banned beef and is also looking to appoint NGOs to look after old and abandoned cattle in the state.

Officials in the animal husbandry department said the desi cattle breeding project would be undertaken as part of the Rashtriya Gokul Mission, a centrally funded scheme in which the government will be spending Rs 15 crore.

Over the last few years, the number of indigenous cows in the state has dwindled considerably, with Holstein Friesian and Jersey varieties taking up a huge chunk of the market thanks to their capacity for producing a large volume of milk. Officials said that even farmers engaged in animal husbandry as an allied activity to boost their incomes are interested in these high milk-producing cow varieties, pushing the count of their sturdier desi counterparts to a few thousand.

“We will be buying nearly 600 cows for each centre. Gir is available in Gujarat while Khillari and Goulav varieties are available with private individuals or farms in Vidarbha,” said a senior official from the department.

He also said that the government along with the Bharatiya Agro Industries Foundation (BAIF) is finalizing a new insemination method to boost the number of calves born. The progeny will be distributed to farmers to encourage them to rear desi breeds. “The insemination will be done only after identifying and verifying the pedigree of a pure-bred male,” said another official.

Officials said that they have also sent a proposal involving a technology called sorted semen for approval to the central government. In this practice, the aim is to inseminate the female cow with only such semen that has the highest chance of producing a female calf—the idea being to increase milk production in the state.

Officials said that the demand for milk of desi cows or A2 milk is increasingly becoming a health fad, with small dairies and big brands like Amul entering the market.


Source:  Times Of India



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