The first-ever mass animal tagging project of the country is nearing its end in Sabarkantha amid high hopes of cattle breeders and dairy officials that the online monitoring of their animals would go a long way in making their milk and related products acceptable in European markets.
The pilot project,Animal Identification and Mass Tagging,is being implemented by Sabar Dairy and is due to be completed by March. It is fully funded by the state government while National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) is providing the technical know-how. The state government had sanctioned the Rs 1-crore project in March this year.
Under the project,seven lakh cattle of the district have been fixed with a plastic tag on their ears free of cost by veterinary experts of the dairy. Every tag bears a unique 12-digit identification number and a barcode. The same number is saved in an online database. The tag will have details like age,sex,pedigree,health background and productivity record of an animal. This information will be made public on a portal.
Due to not having an online database of our cattle,European countries are hesitating to buy our milk and milk products. Customers do not know which herd the product is derived from. Nor do they have information about health and hygiene of cattle. So,they prefer to buy products of other firms. However,the project will help change this perception and our products will find more acceptance and fetch higher prices, said Dr Lalit Barot,manager (animal breeding) at Sabar Dairy. He is overseeing the project.
R S Sodhi,managing director of Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation or Amul,also admitted that not having animal tagging was one of the reasons of Amul brands not being marketed in Europe. Yes,it is one of the reasons. Projects like this will help in improving the overall quality of our products, Sodhi told The Indian Express.
We have already completed tagging of animals. Beginning this month (November),we have started trial run of uploading their information. This is the last phase of the project, Dr Barot said.
Almost all the 150 veterinary doctors of the district have been provided with a laptop. These doctors will enter details in the database of any kind of treatment,ranging from artificial insemination to vaccination,that they administer to a certain animal. This way,each animal in the district will get an identity and record of its health and productivity will be maintained online, the doctor said.
Since there is no concept of cattle farms and herds in Gujarat,a village has been made the unit and the cattle in that village form a herd. There are 1,300 villages in the district and one lakh households have been registered raising cattle. The district produces 11.90 lakh litre of milk daily, added Dr Barot. The tags will also act as health card of an animal and this will increase its sale value.
Sabar Dairy chairman Jethabhai Patel said that cattle breeders will also benefit from the project. The present prices of milk are not affordable to cattle breeders. This project will help increase milk production through better maintenance of animal. Moreover,they will be advised by doctors in keeping animals healthy. This will lead to cut in production cost, Patel said.
Dr A J Kachhia Patel,director,state animal husbandry department,said,If it proves successful,we will replicate it in all the districts of the state.