Following the 10-day tour by Punjab officials to Brazil to study its indigenous cow breed ‘Gir’, the state government has now decided to import high quality Gir bull semen from the South American country. The move has, however, come under severe criticism from dairy farmers.
A six-member delegation, including two dairy farmers, had gone to Brazil on the directions of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. The government has been focussing on improving and promoting indigenous breeds in Punjab.
Punjab’s dairy farmers, however, blasted the government’s latest move.
“This is ridiculous. They are misleading the dairy farmers already trapped in debt,” said Daljit Singh, president of Progressive Dairy Farmers Association, the largest association of dairy farmers in Punjab. “First CM Parkash Singh Badal asked us to adopt Holstein Friesians (HF) cross breeds. We did so and now we have attained such expertise that farmers from Gujarat are coming to Punjab to buy them. The cows give 6,000 litres of milk per lactation compared to 2,000-2,500 litres of indigenous breeds like Sahiwal and even Gir. Now, when it is time for farmers to earn profits from HF, government is trying to lure them with other subsidies. CM is now on an entirely different track of promoting indigenous cattle. Even then, they had failed to improve our own Sahiwal and are now running after Gir.”
Farmers also claimed that Gujarat itself had high quality Gir cows and what’s more, it is native to that state too.
The focus of the Brazil tour was on Indian indigenous breeds including Gir, Tharpakar and Kankrej whose germplasm were imported by Brazil decades ago. It is now claimed that Brazil had achieved greater success with the breeds with higher milk yield and better animal health.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Dr H S Sandha, director animal husbandry Punjab, said, “We visited various dairy farms in Brazil and noticed that they had fewer animals but larger grazing areas. Their milk productivity of Gir cattle is double than ours. So, we have decided to import high quality Gir bulls semen from Brazil. We will be working on improving Gir breed here and propagating it among farmers.”
Gir is neither suitable for Punjab nor better than Sahiwal but if at all government wants to experiment, Gujarat should be the first stop not Brazil, said Sukhdev Singh, director of Progressive Dairy Farmers Solutions from Mohali. “The claim that Gir in Brazil is giving 45 to 55 litres of milk a day is false. It is only the elite animals that will come close to giving such figures. Else, the Gir gives only 18 to 22 litres, which is even less than our Sahiwal. But if at all the government wanted to experiment, it should get semen from Gujarat. That is from where Brazil took and developed it. It will be extremely stupid if Punjab goes to Brazil, not Gujarat for Gir semen,” he added.