A1 & A2 MILK …. AN INDIAN PERSPECTIVE :- T MUGUNTHAN CHARI, GENERAL MANAGER, UNIBISC SARL, TALATAMATY, ANTANANARIVO, MADAGASCAR.
SYNOPSIS:- With the recent happenings in Tamil Nadu in connection with JALLIKATTU, too much of social media activity encountered denigrating efforts taken in our country in enhancing milk production. There were repeated noises all was not well with breed development, dairy development and related extension work. We have also seen Pseudo specialists in the field of medicine attributing all ill health to A1 Milk which is found to be from exotic foreign breed. This article tries to dispel these myths and attributes the growth in the field of dairying to focused breed development work. It also emphasizes sustained efforts that are needed to study rigorously A 1 and A 2 Milk and reassures common man that there is no need to press the “ Emergency” button !
Every scientific progress and development always bring along with it related controversies which may crop up as per the socio economical development of that region. This is true right from electricity, steam engine, nuclear fuel, atomic energy and what not. Dairy industry is no exception. As someone with exposure to Indian Dairy Industry I wish to go through various facts and figures that are relevant to Indian Dairy Industry to reassure the common man that all s not lost due to exotic breeds of cattle.
Dairy Industry in India is not an organized one. It is still in evolving stage and it by and large complements agriculture industry. Indian farmers rear cattle as a means to help them in their farming activities. Agricultural by products like straw are fed to cows and predominantly buffaloes to rear them. Bulls are used in the farm as draught animals in ploughing, hauling agricultural inputs and farm output. As a predominantly Hindu populated country culling and slaughtering of cattle especially cows is considered sacrilege in India. Therefore cattle are more or less taken care as part of the family and revered.
Yield of milk of Indian breeds is not comparable to foreign breed. It is far too low and Dairying was not considered to be an income generation activity but more as a source of additional income to the housewives who took the trouble of taking care of the animals apart from taking care of the family needs only marketable surplus was sold to a few customers.
Average daily requirement of milk for a normal healthy human being in India was ……ml. This was hardly met by the poor milch animals of local origin. Thus as a prudent and long term vision oriented decision it was decided to enhance the breed quality of local milch animals and cross breeding was vastly encouraged. This was purely taking into the need of the hour when availability of milk was very poor, scarcity rampant. We were banking on various world food programmes to get aids in the form of inputs like milk powder, butter oil which were blended and marketed all over the country using various NDDB ( National Dairy Development Board ) initiated programmes. Mother Dairies were set up in major metros. The major focus was on enhancing availability of milk which is fresh, pure and wholesome to growing urban population. There used to be so much hulla holla about milk which was supposed to be feeding rural poor being brought and marketed in towns and cities thus depriving rural poor of nutrition.
But with success of AMUL’s model Dairy Development in India was said to have ushered in women empowerment, literacy among rural masses, awareness on social issues like family planning, Good House Keeping as clean milk production was a focus point. There were a few orgainsed MNCs and corporate houses involved in processing milk as every big business house was mainly focused in Dairy Products which was bringing in good returns. Thus liquid milk was being handled by Amul, Mother Dairies, State Federation, Rural Co-operatives etc.
Despite massive efforts by AMUL, Mother Dairy and local co-operatives unorganized sector was also playing a major role in regulating milk supply to cities.
In this background, if you see the way we have grown in raising availability of milk in India, we have every reason to feel proud. Despite various hue and cry which are emanating when there is plenty of marketable surplus of milk and milk products which even makes way into export markets in the form of milk powder, ghee etc.
We need to appreciate the visionary leadership of Dr. C Subramaniam Former Finance Minister who was responsible for giving free hand to genetics and breeding scientists in the field of agriculture like Dr. M S Swaminathan for ushering in Green Revolution in India which gave food security to masses living in this great land & Dr V Kurien who was instrumental in ushering in White Revolution by arranging and channelizing aids received in various forms.
The table below shows the trend of milk production in India and the per capita availability of milk in India.
Year MMT ( Million Metric Tons) Per Capita Availability / person/ day ( ml)
1991-92 55.6 178
1992-93 58.0 182
1993-94 60.6 187
1994-95 63.8 194
1995-96 66.2 197
1996-97 69.1 202
1997-98 75.4 213
2012-13 132.4 299
2013-14 137.7 307
2014-15 146.3 322
2015-16 155.5 340
We can see from the above table sourced from NDDB there is a great leap in the volume of milk production in our country and this is made possible by cross breeding. This growth is 18.5 % of total milk production of the world and we rank No.1 in global production of milk. As compared to other countries our growth is 6.26% as against the global average growth of 3.1% year on year basis.
As per Nutritional requirement average adult requirement of milk per day per person is 200 ml to 248 ml depending on the physical and physiological condition. Thus there is enough milk made available by various initiatives of Indian scientists.
Now coming to the crux of A1 & A2 milk after having made milk available to the masses this question can be addressed very easily.
India is predominantly a buffalo milk country 55 % of milk production is from buffaloes as the same seems to be very favorable for the farmers in terms of economics. 21% of the total milk production is from Indigenous breeds of cattle and 24% of the total milk production is from Cross bred cows. This is as per 2007 statistics.
If you go by this the issue of A1 & A2 milk crops up only with respect to the 24% of the milk received from Cross bred animals as Buffalo milk is purely A 2 milk, which is being praised as the elixir of good health. People now have issues with only A1 Milk. The research in this field is not very conclusive and scientific community still does not buy the claim of all bad things attributed to A1 Milk.
Some of the whatsapp messages like indigenous cow milk because of the hump is rich in vitamin and it absorbs sun light therefore yellow in color are dubious claim. Cows because they do not metabolize all Carotein into vitamin A passes the same carotein into milk therefore it is yellow in color.
Another claim that A1 milk causes virtually all diseases in medical encyclopedia like Down’s syndrome, spastic child, mental disorders, diabetes, Hypertension etc. If we go by the per capita consumption of milk in some of the developed countries we would be wondering whether all the people in these countries who consume predominantly A1 milk should be sick and in death bed. This is not the case as these people are leading normal life ! Please find attached table of top ten milk consuming countries in the world.
CONCLUSION:-Let us celebrate the achievements made by dairy industry in India which is not a small order one. No breed local, imported, cross bred can be a permanent “ fool proof” solution. As things are very dynamic in nature, we need to constantly research and bring in good things from various countries. If Kangeyam cattle is bred and made as the draught animal in Brazil we should feel proud and encourage local farmers to appreciate the good things in local and breeds from abroad. May be one day we will be exporting semen of our native breeds abroad as the same is being done with our Murrah buffaloes !!
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