Milk production in India is dominated by small and marginal landholding farmers and by landless labouers who, in aggregate, own about 70 percent of the the national milch animal herd. These farmers; maintain an average herd of one or two milch animals, comprising cows and or buffaloes. The animals nutritional requirements are largely met by agricultural waste and bye products. Ample labour and a small land base encourage farmers to practice dairying as an occupation subsidiary to agriculture. While income from crop production is seasonal, dairying provides a stable, year-round income, which is an important economic incentive for the small-farmer to take to dairying. It is not surprising that the small farmer to take dairying. It is not surprising that the small farmer and the landless labourer are more often than not victims of moneylenders and of natural calamities.Dairying as subsidiary source of income, is a real relied to most of these weaker; froups in society. Often one two milk animals enables these farmers to generate sufficient additional income to break the vicious subsistence agricultural-debt cycle. Dairying is an economic activity, which evens out cash flows to households, in contrast to income from crops, which comes only at the end of a season. Further, dairying provides for an indirect income insurance against risks from crops, such as crop failure due to drought or pests.
The Successful Indian dairy development programme Operation Flood has shown how food aid can be used as an investment in building the type of institutional infrastructure that can bring about national dairy development. Programmes like Operation Flood, with similar policy orientations, may prove to be appropriate to dairy development in other Asian as well as African countries since the conditions that prevail in dairying today in a number of developing countries are comparable to those that once were found in Indian. In the early 1950s, India was commercially importing around 55000 tonnes of milk powder annually to meet the urban milk demand currently; many developing countries either commercially import dairy products on a large scale or rely on donations to meet the gap between demand and supply of milk products. Together, developing-country imports account for over 70 percent of total world trade in milk products.
Dairy development in India has been acclaimed world over as one of modern India's most accomplished developmental programmes. The states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttat Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are surplus in milk production. Productivity performance of dairy industry across the country has registered an annual growth of 17.1 percent for the country as a whole with highest market share of 23.5 percent followed by Gujarat (17.2 percent). This consumption pattern indicates that 45 percent of milk is consumed in liquid form; while butter milk separated milk (butter and ghee) constitute 34 percent.
As low-cost imports from advanced dairying nations depress domestic milk prices, it becomes uneconomical for local milk producers to invest in dairying, causing stagnation in production. This hampers breed improvement efforts, fodder production programmes and the manufacture of quality feed and other endeavours to improve productivity. For any country seriously interested in exploiting the potential of dairying, therefore, it becomes imperative to review and seriously consider policies that would promote dairy development activities by herbing to establish independent and self-sustaining dairying systems.
Buffalo contributes largest to the milk pool with about 46.5 million tonnes ( 55 percent ) followed by indigenous cows with 18.3 million tonnes (24 percent) and crossbred cows, with 13.5 million tonnes (16 percent). Goat contributes 4.2 million tonnes ( 5 percent). In 2003 - 04, the production of milk in the country was 88.1 million tonnes, of eggs 34 billion no., of wool 53 million kgs. Undoubtedly, the major challenge for the dairy sector any developing nation is to increase milk production in order to meet the increasing demand resulting from the almost inevitable expansion of population and, presumably, growth of income. To meet this challenge, policies must become more market-oriented. The adoption of appropriate technologies for production, procurement, processing and marketing - after the unique environmental, social, economic, political and cultural environment, of the individual country has been considered - is an important aspect dairy development.