Assam imports 32 lakh eggs everyday, produces 27 lakhs
GUWAHATI: Shelling out lakhs of rupees outside the state and making the exchequer bleed, Assam currently imports 32 lakh eggs everyday from other Indian states, mainly Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
At present, the state produces 27 lakh eggs every day, but it is not sufficient to meet the demand, said Dr MK Bujarbaruah, vice chancellor (VC), Assam Agricultural University.
Talking to G Plus on the sidelines of a brainstorming session on Livestock, Poultry, Dairy and Fishery Development in Assam organized here in Guwahati, Bujarbaruah said, “If we can increase the production of eggs here in Assam, we can help generate employment both directly and indirectly. At least 2,000 youths will get direct employment. We are hopeful of the Act East Policy, which will open up the entire corridor and will allow us to sell our products in China.”
According to Bujarbaruah, the Livestock and Fishery sector has long been neglected in the country, whereas the sector’s contribution to the GDP is 1.1% more than the agriculture sector.
Currently, there is no separate directorate existing for the livestock sector in Assam. There is also paucity of manpower in the sector, which mainly includes a number of commodities such as meat, eggs, milk, fur, leather and wool.
Compared to the livestock sector, the fishery sector has witnessed growth in Assam.
“Now, the difference in the annual production of fish in Assam stands at around 32,000 metric tonnes (MT), which was in lakhs before. The production of fish in the state has been increasing over the years. But, we still require almost 3 lakh MT of fish per year, which, we firmly believe, will be produced by the state itself in the next two years.”
Milk - an important component of livestock sector
Production of milk in Assam is largely carried out in an unorganized manner, which affects the producers as well as the quality of milk produced in the state.
As per a study conducted by International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Assam Agricultural University (AAU), 97% of milk in Assam comes from unorganized sector.
Studies have also revealed that raw milk traded by vendors here in Assam contains more added water (20.5%), higher total bacterial plate count (6.1 log), and higher coliform count (4.1) than pasteurized and ultra-high temperature (UHT) milk.
It has also been found that 4.5% of milk samples in Guwahati are tested positive for Aflatoxin.
Unlike agriculture, the diary sector does not have any minimum support price (MSP), which the government of India guarantees to pay to farmers.
“Absence of a MSP has forced the producers to sell their products at a lesser price than their actual cost of production. Because of this, the volume of production of milk has gone down in the state. Even, people involved in the business are not willing to increase their production,” an official of Directorate of Dairy Development in Assam said.
Last year, 8,72,000 tonnes of milk was produced in Assam, as against the 17,63,00,000 tonnes of milk produced in the country.
The state produced 8,61,000 tonnes of milk in 2017 and 8,43,000 tonnes in 2016.
Where does Assam stand in meat production?
Despite being a largely meat-consuming region, the entire northeastern region including Assam imports more meat than it produces.
“Around 1.9 kg of meat per person is available for consumption in Assam, whereas 5.5 kg of meat per head is available for consumption in India. Therefore, the state of Assam has to import the surplus from outside,” said Bujarbaruah.
As per data provided by the state Animal Husbandry and Veterinary department, 150 MT of meat was produced in Assam during the period of 2018-19 as against the market demand of 375 MT of meat during the same period.
Similarly, the state produced only 49 MT of meat in 2016-17, whereas the demand during that period was 263 MT.
Among the livestock species, pig and goat play an important role in the development of the livestock sector.
The state of Assam accounts for 15.89% of the total pig population in India.
According to Integrated Sample Survey Report 2016-17, the share of meat production from pig was 18,730 tonnes (39.96%) as against the total meat production of 46,870 tonnes in Assam during the period 2016-17.
New university for veterinary and fishery sector
In order to further develop the veterinary and fishery sector, the government of Assam is set to establish a dedicated university for the sector.
According to Bujarbaruah, a proposal has already been sent to the government for establishing the university.
“The government has agreed to set up the university. The new university will be a separate entity and will be situated near Agricultural University in Khanapara, Guwahati, while the fishery university will be set up within the existing campus of College Of Fisheries in Raha, Nagaon,” said Bujarbaruah.