With depleting pastures, it’s an open field for feed firms

HYDERABAD: Fast-depleting green pastures across India as a fallout of rapid urbanization and frequent droughts owing to inadequate monsoons, coupled with booming dairy industry is boosting the prospects of animal feed manufacturers, who are looking at adding capacities. Reports by various agencies, both private and public, indicate fast-depleting green pastures allocated for animal grazing, which are currently at 7 per cent of total arable land and estimated to further plunge to around 6 per cent by 2020 and 5 per cent by 2030.

Awareness among dairy farmers over the benefits of higher productivity through manufactured feed is also helping animal feed manufacturers augment capacities through greenfield and brownfield expansions. Several Indian manufacturers of compound feed or nutritionally balanced animal feed such as Godrej Agrovet, Cargill India and Anmol Group, among others, have been seeing impressive increase in the number of farmers under their networks buying sizeable quantities of animal feed.

A report by YES BankBSE -0.72 %, titled ‘Indian Feed Industry: Revitalising Nutritional Security’, says the Indian animal feed industry is barely meeting the growing requirements of farmers.

Though the domestic animal feed industry is growing at 8 per cent, with poultry, aqua and dairy contributing significantly, only 11 per cent of farmers’ needs are currently being met by the industry. Against a requirement of 67 million tonnes now, the industry is able to supply only 7.33 million tonnes, which includes 4 million tonnes by the private sector and 3.33 tonnes by co-operatives.

Bal ram Yadav, managing director of Godrej Agrovet, India’s largest compound feed manufacturer, said: “The number of farmers under our network are increasing at the rate of 7-8 per cent year-on-year while cattle population registered has increased 13-14 per cent yearly.”

Buoyed by the increasing demand, Godrej Agrovet has decided to spend at least Rs 100 crore on an average annually on both modernising manufacturing facilities as well as augmenting capacities.

The company currently has 14 cattle feed manufacturing plants spread across the country, apart from 20 production facilities that focus on feed for poultry and aqua culture, among others.

Another large animal feed produ cer Cargill India in February com missioned its 1.2 lakh tonne feed facility in Bhatinda involving an investment of nearly Rs 90 crore and is now looking at expanding capacities. The Indian arm of US giant Cargill group is also looking to operate in new regions through own and leased out facilities. Cargill India’s managing director Achyuth Iyengar said the new plant will help the company cater to an increasing number of dairy farmers in the Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan regions, who have been increasingly shifting to compound feed.