Climate change threatens India’s milk industry
Islam News – India, the world’s largest producer of milk, relies on 80 million farmers to generate more than 200 million tons every year, mostly for domestic use.
But those oceans of milk are growing more difficult to produce, and more expensive to buy, largely because of climate change. Wilting heat came earlier and lingered longer this year than usual, which scientists found stressed cattle and created a decline in milk yield of 11 percent. Erratic rainfall and extreme weather exacerbated an already troubling fodder deficit.
A majority of India’s dairy farmers are small producers, and a lot of the heat-mitigation measures they’ve long relied on, such as shared village ponds, are no longer tenable because of water shortages and pollution.
What’s next: Scientists at the National Dairy Research Institute have conducted studies to help address the issue, including one on developing new breeds of buffalo — nearly half the country’s milk comes from buffaloes, which have proved more able to adapt to heat than crossbred cattle — and another on using new shrubs for protein content. Some scientists are even playing flute music to see whether it relaxes the bovines.
Quotable: “We have to find the ways to make the animal stress-free,” said Dr. Ashutosh, who goes by one name and leads a team of scientists studying the issue. “Only then we can make them resilient.”