Interim Budget 2019: Not really bullish on native cow breeds

Goyal bumps up revised budget for Rashtriya Gokul Mission, slashes it for 2019-20

February 01, 2019 11:12 pm | Updated February 02, 2019 02:50 am IST - NEW DELHI

Cow conundrum: At a shelter in Amritsar.

Cow conundrum: At a shelter in Amritsar.

Union Finance Minister Piyush Goyal has allotted ₹750 crore to the Rashtriya Gokul Mission (RGM) under revised estimates for the financial year 2018-19.

In the Budget presented last year, the RGM, managed by the Department of Animal Health and Husbandry (DAHD), had been allocated ₹301.5 crore.

But intriguingly, even as he doubled the allocation for 2018-19, Mr. Goyal slashed the outlay for 2019-20, down to ₹302 crore, comparable to the amount originally allocated last year. Budget documents reveal that the DAHD only managed to spend ₹187.73 crore under the scheme in 2017-18.

‘Superior’ breeds

A DAHD note said, “The RGM was launched in December 2014 on an outlay of ₹500 crore (2014-15 to 2016-2017) for developing and conserving indigenous breeds through selective breeding and genetically upgrading ‘nondescript’ bovine population.”

Officially, the RGM aims to develop ‘Gokul Gram’ cattle care centres for indigenous breeds of high “genetic merit” as well as breeds that aren’t as gifted. The objective is to get native breeds to produce more milk, be more fecund, and to raise the quality of Indian cows and bulls to eventually outpace Jerseys and Holsteins. The RGM doesn’t address the issue of cattle past their reproductive or useful age. The government, in 2017, banned cattle slaughter, making it difficult for farmers to send away aged cattle. This raised stray cattle numbers. Although the ban was lifted later, the threat of vigilante violence has hit farmers.

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