Dairy farmers in India incur an average annual loss of ₹21,000 to ₹25,000 a year per head of cattle affected by the highly contagious foot and mouth disease (FMD).
FMD brings the milk production in cattle, buffaloes and sheep down by 80% and the animal’s life deteriorates, making it a burden on the farmer.
With India having the largest cattle population in the world, it requires over a 1,000 million doses of FMD vaccine but only half of it is currently made available.
Malur (Karnataka)-based veterinary vaccine research and development firm Biovet currently supplies over 200 million doses while its target is to raise the vaccine production by another 300 million doses.
The production facility would also churn out 100 million doses of Brucella vaccine per year.
Buoyed by the Centre’s emphasis on animal health, giving greater push to control and eradicate FMD and Brucellosis in cattle, Biovet has decided to invest ₹200 crore to expand its FMD and Brucellosis vaccine manufacturing facilities in Karnataka.
As per Dr. Ella, founder-promoter of Biovet, dairy farmers in the country incur an annual economic loss to the tune of ₹25,000 crore because of FMD and related restriction on the export of milk, dairy and other animal products.
The estimated losses per infected animal because of FMD is ₹2,023 for sheep, ₹3,046 for the goat and ₹2,830 for the pig.
The country currently has a huge vaccine shortage and therefore all its cattle are not in good health. Cattle health has a direct impact on human health as well as Indians consume a lot of dairy and meat products.
According to estimates, India’s FMD Foot and Mouth Disease control programme requires 1,000 million doses of vaccine each year, whereas the current production capacity in the country is about 500 million doses. There is an unmet need for 500 million doses, and Biovet aims to fill fulfil this gap through the planned expansion.
“The animal health situation in the country is expected to improve with the government recently deciding to have an exclusive ministry for animal husbandry. A sum of ₹13,343 crore has been earmarked for control and eradication of diseases with a special focus on FMD and Brucellosis,’’ added Dr. Ella.