Ignatius Pereira

Bid to arrest the decline in buffalo population in the State

KOLLAM: The Government has finalised a comprehensive programme to encourage buffalo rearing in the State. The pilot project in this connection will be launched at Kuttanad in Alappuzha district on January 2.

The Rs.32.5-lakh project will be the first intensive buffalo rearing promotion programme to be undertaken by the State Government.

When contacted, Director of the Animal Husbandry Department B. Ashok said that a drastic decline in the buffalo population of the State was the immediate reason for the State Government to launch the Intensive Buffalo Development Programme (IBDP).

The buffalo population in the State that stood at 4,87,653 in 1956 dropped to a mere 64,618 in 2003 and continued to drop. He said that the Government felt that if the downward trend was not arrested, buffalo rearing could be totally wiped out in the State.This, in spite of the fact that there were several pockets in Kerala which were ideal for buffalo rearing.

"Among them, Kuttanad is the most ideal and that is the reason why that area was selected for the pilot project," Mr. Ashok said.

Statistics show that 53 per cent of the world buffalo population is in India and 54 per cent of the milk produced in India comes from buffaloes. Yet Kerala does not make any noteworthy contribution in this sector. The project being launched will hopefully make notable contributions.

IBDP comprises four broad aims and topping it is the move to arrest the decline in buffalo population. The other aims are to encourage farmers to rear graded buffaloes, better utilisation of the Kuttanad agri-waste and by-products and to make Kuttanand a source of germ plasm, which can be distributed to other districts, Dr. Ashok said.

The programme also comprises five broad components. It will cover all existing buffaloes in Alappuzha district under a free artificial insemination programme as per a national programme. On the day of the launch itself, 200 females calves will be distributed free to farmers. The IBDP will be formally inaugurated by Minister for Tourism K. Venugopal at Ambalapuzha on Monday at a function to be presided over by Minister for Agriculture K.R. Gouri.