GoI’s AHIDF initiative; a welcome step to boost Animal Husbandry Sector in JK

Jammu & Kashmir has vast Animal Husbandry resources which in turn make an essential contribution towards economic development of the people especially those living in rural areas. Livestock sector has the scope for generating more employment opportunities especially to the small farmers and labours. Animal Husbandry is important from the twin perspectives of savings and investment and provides economic security through multiple measures.
Taking an initiative of strengthening, improving and promoting this sector throughout the country, the Union Government recently announced setting up of Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) amounting to Rs. 15000 crore with an interest subsidy scheme to promote investment by private players and MSMEs in dairy, meat processing and animal feed plants; a move which is expected to create 35 lakh jobs. The fund is part of the Rupees 20 lakh crore stimulus package announced in May this year to help people affected by the lockdown due to Covid 19. The Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) was approved in the Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24th June. The government had earlier approved the Dairy Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF) worth Rs 10,000 crore for incentivizing investment by the cooperative sector for development of dairy infrastructure. The AHIDF would promote infrastructure investments in dairy, meat processing and animal feed plants. Farmer producer organizations (FPOs), MSMEs, Section 8 companies, private companies and individual entrepreneurs would be eligible to benefit from the fund.
With respect to Jammu and Kashmir, Centre is making concerted efforts to tap huge potential for livestock development with special focus on increasing wool production in the Valley and potential areas of Jammu region. There will be a focus to introduce the scientific techniques for multiplying livestock production. Such measures include Biofloc technique in fish rearing and promoting Merino sheep wool production in Kashmir and parts of Jammu region. Since the inception of the Animal Husbandry Department in 1982, there has been a focus on achieving the aims of Socio economic upliftment of the average farmer. The policies of the department have been development of cattle, poultry, equines and fodder production with main objectives of increasing milk, egg, poultry meat production and creating employment avenues. AHIDF will play a vital role in achieving these objectives effectively. Livestock has the potential to improve agricultural income and output. The government, therefore, encourages the investments in agriculture and its allied areas such as dairy farming, poultry farming, sheep farming, and better technology for good fodder to strengthen the economy by increasing income and employment of the people and attracting private investments. Keeping this in mind the Union Government for the first time will give 3 and 4 per cent interest subvention to eligible beneficiaries from non-aspirational districts and aspirational districts respectively for setting up of processing infrastructure for dairy, poultry and meat. Aspirational districts are those that are affected by poor socio-economic indicators. The beneficiaries will have to contribute 10 percent margin towards the proposed project and the rest 90 per cent would be a loan component to be made available to them by scheduled banks. There will be a two-year moratorium period for repayment of loans with six years repayment period thereafter. Besides, the Centre would also set up a Credit Guarantee Fund of Rs 750 crore to be managed by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) which would provide credit guarantee to the projects which are covered under the MSME defined ceilings. The guarantee coverage would be upto 25 percent of the credit facility of the borrower. There is huge potential waiting to be unlocked through private sector investment in the field of animal husbandry.
Government is focusing on skill development to empower youth with entrepreneurship capabilities by creating innovative avenues for profit generation and strengthening the economy. This fund lays the foundation towards effective means of self-employment which in turn is essential in boosting the overall economy of a country. The AHIDF with the interest subvention scheme for private investors will ensure availability of capital to meet upfront investment required for these projects and also help enhance overall returns/ pay back for investors. Since almost 50-60 per cent of the final value of dairy output in India flows back to farmers, the growth in this sector can have a significant direct impact on farmer’s income. Thus, investment of Rs 15,000 crore through AHIDF would not only leverage several times more private investment but would also motivate farmers to invest more on inputs thereby driving higher productivity leading to increase in farmers income.
As far as J&K is concerned, there are 92 million animals and 82.93 million poultry, small ruminants comprising 3.4 million sheep and 2 million goats also contribute significantly to the total livestock population of the Union Territory. With such a package it is possible that there will be enhancement in up gradation of cattle through crossbreeding, better breeding and other training facilities and spreading awareness by organising different welfare camps in different areas. There is also scope for different technologies like improved germplasm of fine wool sheep, increase in egg production, embryo transfer technology, silvi pasture management, field based diagnostic kits, vaccines and disease control for enhanced production and sustenance of the sector. In India, like most of the developing countries, rearing livestock is one of the most important industries. The Animal Husbandry sector not only provides essential nutritional requirements but also provides gainful employment. AHIDF is a landmark decision of the Union Government which shall take the sector to the new heights of improvement and achievement in the entire country.

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