Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution and Textiles, Shri Piyush Goyal today asked the International Dairy Federation (IDF) to direct focused efforts towards finding relevant, contemporary, practical and cost-effective solutions to make small dairy farms in developing nations more productive, sustainable, eco-friendly, quality oriented and profitable. He was addressing the World Dairy Summit 2022 (WDS 2022) of IDF in Greater Noida today.
He also urged IDF to explore the possibility of stationing a small team of experts in India to carry out research at the farm level, study India’s varied climatic conditions and come up with solutions that will help us align ourselves with the global standards and global emission norms. ‘I can assure you that India wants to be a part of the solution and not the problem’, he said.
Highlighting India’s status as the largest producer of dairy products in the world, with nearly one-fourth of the world’s production, the Minister expressed confidence that with greater international engagement and the strong initiative taken by the government, the cooperative sector and the farmers, India’s share of the global dairy market will see significant growth in the years to come. This, he said, would greatly benefit the small and marginal farmers of India and give them much needed supplementary income and contribute towards better nutrition for their children. It may be noted that one-third of the dairy production is used by the farmers for their family consumption.
Speaking of quality standards and sustainability, the Minister reiterated that India would very much like to become a part of the global efforts to bring down the impact of farming on global emissions. Drawing a picture of contrast between India where a large number of farmers with small land holdings are engaged in dairying and developed nations where relatively fewer numbers of farmers are engaged in production, the Minister called upon stakeholders of the dairy industry to find contemporary, relevant solutions to aid small farmers. Echoing India’s commitment to take the fruits of prosperity and development to each and every one of its 1.3 billion people during the Amritkaal, the period leading up to the 100th anniversary of our independence in 2047, Shri Goyal asked for focused efforts towards making small farms profitable.
Observing that the farmers of India are very conscious of their responsibility to the environment, the Minister said that they intrinsically, by their very nature and philosophical thinking strongly believed in sustainability. Referring to the deep regard and reverence that Indians have for the divinity that exists in nature, Shri Goyal said that our dairy farmers have always been very conscious of the environmental impact of their occupation. He cited as an example, the extensive use of cow dung as manure which considerably reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides and for the production of fuels such as biogas. This, he said, was also an important contribution towards efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of farming.
The Minister said that this reverence for nature was observable not only in dairying but also in our farming and fishing practices. He pointed out that this was one of the reasons behind India supporting nearly 17% of the world’s population and yet contributing less that 3% to the harmful global Green House Gas emissions. In this context, the Minister opined that relevant and cost-effective solutions for sustainability if offered to our farmers would be quickly adopted.
Shri Goyal expressed his strong concerns about the inability of the developed world to meet its commitments to effectively support the developing and less developed nations of the world through their contributions of technology, low cost, long term government supported climate finance. That should have been a natural outcome of the polluter-pays principle, the Minister said. He urged IDF to consider initiating a global effort whereby nations who have contributed more towards the Green House Gas emissions actually put relevant technology and financing on the table to help mitigate climate crisis in the less developed counties. ‘This would include many nations in Asia and Africa, many of whom have the commitment but do not necessarily possess the relevant technology and resources’, he said.
The Minister said that the commitment to support the developing world in climate mitigation was made by the developed world more than a decade ago and was reiterated at the COP 21 in Paris where India played a leading role in aligning the world to work towards achieving climate goals. 7 years after COP 21, Shri Goyal said that we were still only hearing slogans and seeing no action. He said that he would be speaking on behalf of the entire developing world if he says that ‘we mean business’ when it comes to climate change.
The Minister expressed confidence that in any analysis comparing India’s dairy sector to the mechanized dairy industry of the developed world, India would come out as a winner when it comes to sustainability. He also stated that many parts of the developed world were very sensitive to the concerns of the developing world when honest discussions were held. He cited as an example the negotiations India had with the bipartisan Australian government to sign the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA). The Minister recounted that when he shared the agony of the small farmers in India and the constraints and difficulties under which the dairy farmers worked, he experienced great sensitivity, deep understanding and immense appreciation for these farmers.