Special Correspondent

BANGALORE: Union Minister of State for Agriculture K.V. Thomas on Monday said the country was holding talks with some of its neighbours to prevent “ingress” of livestock diseases from their regions to India.

Prof. Thomas told presspersons after inaugurating “Viv India-2010”, a three-day international conference and exhibition on livestock at Bangalore International Exhibition Centre, that India was ready to provide technological help to its neighbours in this regard if they (neighbours) wanted. But the Minister desisted from naming the neighbouring countries with whom India had initiated talks to prevent “ingress” of livestock diseases.

Earlier, addressing the inaugural session of the conference, the Minister said the Union Government was examining a proposal for launching a national diary plan with a budget of Rs. 17,371 crore to achieve a target of producing 180 million tonnes of milk a year by 2021-22. The country’s milk production stood at 108.50 million tonnes during 2008-09.

The proposed plan would envisage breed improvement and augmentation of cattle feed production, among other things. The plan also proposed to bring 65 per cent of surplus milk produced under the organised sector for procurement as against the present procurement level of 30 per cent, he said.

Highlighting the importance of dairy, poultry and fisheries’ sector in the growth of agrarian economy, he said the country’s agricultural sector could achieve the targeted growth rate of 4 per cent by next year only if this allied sector grew by 8 to 9 per cent.

Karnataka State Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services Director N. Rajagopal observed that the State had good potential for export of livestock products as the cost of these products was lesser in Karnataka than other States.

Hans Wolff, Counsellor for Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (India, Sri Lanka and Nepal) in the Embassy of the Netherlands, said the Netherlands known for its intensive livestock production had lots to offer to India which was facing a challenge of food security.