The livestock sector has significant potential
for improving the livelihoods of landless people and small
and marginal farmers, who comprise the majority of India’s
rural poor. However, resource and institutional constraints
prevent poor producers from realizing the full potential of
the animals they possess. Developing effective pro-poor livestock
policies requires consideration of the political context and
attention to the specific characteristics of poor livestock
Livestock policy options are constrained by two factors.
First, both the Indian central government and the state governments
of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa are committed to neo-liberal
policies. Although the retreat from statism is far from complete,
policies inconsistent with liberalization, such as increasing
state service provision, are unlikely to receive serious consideration.
Second, the low level of organization by poor livestock producers
has meant that livestock policy is shaped by the agendas of
more organized groups. Without greater producer organization,
it is unlikely that policies that impose costs on more organized
interests, such as Hindu nationalists or state employees,
will be implemented. Recent cases in which livestock producers
have organized demonstrate that producer groups can influence
the content and implementation of sector policy.
Prospects for organizations specific to the livestock sector
are limited as long as livestock remains a secondary occupation
or livelihood for most producers. However, external actors
can support the development of broad-based organizations in
which poor producers comprise a substantial share of the membership.
These organizations can help livestock producers develop the
skills to advocate on their own behalf and serve as a base
through which producers articulate their interests.
External actors also can support member-based dairy cooperatives
and other producer associations when and where they emerge,
and can support poor producers involved in mixed organizations.
By facilitating information sharing and organizational development,
outside actors can reduce the cost of organization. Additionally,
these actors can monitor and support local organizations that
exert control over important resources. The Panchayati Raj
institutions and user groups have the potential to be inclusive
and democratic despite evident failures. Critical attention
to local organizations increases the likelihood that poor
producers will be able to participate effectively.
The distribution of benefits from livestock policies is shaped by the characteristics of poor livestock producers. These producers tend to own little or no land and are often of low social status. Thus poor producers are unlikely to benefit from an intervention that requires land or financial resources. Smallholders and landless households differ from other households in the mix of animals they own and their means of supporting these animals. Poor livestock producers own fewer large ruminants (cows and buffaloes); they are more likely to possess small ruminants (goats and sheep) and backyard poultry. Additionally, poor producers depend more heavily on common property resources – village pastures, water tanks, and local forests – for feed and fodder. Measures that improve common resources or focus on small ruminants and free-range poultry are likely to benefit poor producers.
Access to Shared Resources
The condition of common lands and forests has been declining
for several decades. Many common lands and most of the forests
are owned and controlled by state or national government,
and forest ministries have sought to reduce the presence of
livestock. In Andhra Pradesh, an effort by the Forest Department
to restrict grazing, and the rapid mobilization of sheep and
goat rearers' ’associations and their NGO allies, led
to the creation of the AP Forestry Committee. Because livestock
producers are represented, along with Forestry and Animal
Husbandry officials, the committee provides a venue through
which producers can advocate livestock-friendly forest policies.
Actors can also seek to ensure that producers' needs are addressed
in the many central and state government, NGO, and donor initiatives
to improve conditions on common lands, in forests, and in
Animal Health Sector Reforms
Andhra Pradesh and Orissa are undertaking major reforms in
this area. These reforms will subject health services to market
forces. Both states have implemented user fees for breeding
services. Orissa has imposed user charges for veterinary services
and envisions the gradual privatization of health services.
Orissa also plans to build the capacity of small holders,
to promote linkages between grassroots organizations and the
animal husbandry department, and to re-orient the directorate
towards disease control, prevention and eradication, and sector
development. Pro-poor initiatives within this framework would
develop incentives for practitioners to provide preventive
care and extension services. Geographic targeting may be necessary
to ensure that producers in poor areas have access to health
services and is the best use of residual state veterinary
Past dairy sector interventions have focused on productivity
(breed improvement) and cooperative marketing and processing.
Cross-breeding improvement efforts have met with little success,
and prospects for pro-poor breeding interventions appear low.
Culling restrictions and low inputs of feed and fodder by
poor producers pose daunting barriers.The cooperative dairy
sector provides benefits to poor producers, but is limited
by the extensive involvement of state governments in cooperatives.
Recent reforms have exposed cooperatives to greater competition
from private firms. Cooperative law reforms could make it
possible for cooperatives to increase their autonomy. Pro-poor
interventions in dairy include pressuring the governments
of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa to implement the new laws.
Small Ruminant Sector
Sheep and goat rearing has persisted in a sometimes hostile
policy environment. In Andhra Pradesh, policymakers have been
fairly hostile to small ruminants, but producers are relatively
well organized. The Orissa State Livestock Sector Policy acknowledges
the importance of small and meat animals, but producers are
less organized. Although informants indicate that access to
shared resources and health services are major issues, lack
of information limits the development of pro-poor policies.
Research on the marketing commodity chain for these animals
would be an important starting point.