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World Milk day :Can West Bengal become Gujarat of East India ?

The Indian Dairy Association Eastern region celebrated World Milk Day on June 1st in a big way. The celebrations opened dialogue on “Nutrition building through Dairying” as a theme. State animal husbandry minister along with the Who’s who of dairy sector from the state attended this function. It was a real discovery for me while understanding the hidden potential of this state for dairy development. It was very inspiring. While on my flight back home , I thought of penning down my thoughts before my recall perished.

I was going through an article in the Indian Dairyman in the Feb 2023 issue . It shared the startling facts about the West Bengal dairy sector . I was really surprised to know that West Bengal has the largest population of cattle in the country as per the 2019 survey. However there is a concern of malnourishment in children and people prefer to drink black tea in west Bengal.

World Milk day :Can West Bengal become Gujarat of East India ? - Dairy News 7X7

It is also in first position in Fruits and vegetables . West Bengal is at the fourth place in cereal production also in terms of Gross Value Output (GVO). This shows that the farmers in the state are very capable and by adopting best dairy practices they can achieve the impossible of becoming amongst top 7 milk producing states in 3-5 years. NDDB is doing a remarkable job in the state and together with state animal husbandry department required push could be given to dairy development in the state.

Per capita availability of milk needs a push

It is the twelfth largest milk producing state and contributes 2.9% of the total milk produced in the country. However, in per capita milk availability , it is very low at 179 gms per day. Only 9 states are below West Bengal in India in milk availability. Even Ladakh has almost 50% more per capita milk availability than West Bengal.

World Milk day :Can West Bengal become Gujarat of East India ? - Dairy News 7X7

The national per capita average is 444 grams per person therefore comparatively there is a huge gap. State has one of the widest networks of artificial insemination. But only 28 percent of breedable bovine females are covered under artificial insemination. There is a significant gap of almost 53 per cent between supply and demand of total fodder availability.

The Nutritional Paradox

Last seven years of progress of the West Bengal dairy sector can be summarised as below. We could clearly see that the milk availability growth is almost half that of the national average .


Year 2012 2019 % Change
Cattle 16.5 Million 19.1 Million 16
Buffalo 0.59 Mill 0.63 Mill 7
Per Capita Milk Availability National 273 gms/day 427 gms/day 56
Per Capita Milk Availability WB 133 gms/day 173 gms/day 30

West Bengal dairy development statistics- @Suruchi Research

Dairying is considered as the most significant activity from financial as well as nutritional security of the society. I thought of looking at the nutritional status of the state. As per reports from various authentic sources, the state did a remarkable job in reducing the malnourishment within the state. However in the last 2-3 years the reduction in cases of stunting, wasting and super wasting did not reduce as in the past. There may be reasons like Covid and the diversions of health funds for taking care of the pandemic. The only area where I found an anomaly was that the cases of malnourishment were very high amongst the top milk producing districts in the state.

Cases of malnutrition under 5 years of age (2019-20) by Poshan ( an initiative of IFPRI)

World Milk day :Can West Bengal become Gujarat of East India ? - Dairy News 7X7

What is a healthy diet?

The Eastern region has always been a victim of the source of protein paradigm in the regular diet. Everyone thinks that if protein requirements are met through meat and fish then why should we consume milk ? It is also assumed that the eastern region is mostly non vegetarian thus dairy has no space in their regular diet. If such is the case then developed countries might not have 3-4 times higher per capita of milk and dairy products in their countries.

Dairy plays an important role in our diet. As per WHO, a healthy diet should optimize complete physical, mental & social well being. Milk is the first food for humans . Milk products make a significant contribution to the global supply of – Ca, P, K, Six indispensable Amino Acids, dietary fat, overall protein, and vitamin A, B2, B5, B12. It provides growth and immunity in the initial part of life and later it acts as a strong mechanism in providing strength and energy to the body.

High intake of dairy products, at least three servings per day, has been widely promoted in western countries for bone health & fracture prevention. However optimum Ca intake varies from region to region. In the USA 1200mg Ca is recommended per day. In other areas it is 500-700 mg per day. One 250 mg of milk serving has 300mg of Ca.  Some reports also suggest yogurt might reduce risk of diabetes and weight gain.

Healthy reference food chart

Even Fish diet is not safe. Fish is a good source of Omega-3. Around one or two servings of fatty fish a week equals to 2 gms per week of omega-3 fatty acids which might reduce cardiac risk by one third. But fish may have mercury bio toxicity. Red meat in all formats has already been discouraged by the WHO and other relevant bodies involved with global health. Even Vegan foods need supplementation with Vitamin B12 or Riboflavin. Milk is again the best source for this Vitamin B12.

Globally more than 820 million people are undernourished, 151 million children are stunted, 51 million children are wasted & more than 2 Billion people are micronutrient deficient and 2.1 billion adults are obese.

Diabetes cases have doubled in the last 30 years.

Unhealthy diets are the largest burden of global disease and pose a greater risk to morbidity & mortality than does unsafe sex, alcohol, drug, and tobacco use combine.

This has led to development of a healthy reference food chart by Eat- lancet Commission as shown below.

World Milk day :Can West Bengal become Gujarat of East India ? - Dairy News 7X7

This report clearly shows more than suggested consumption of milk and dairy products in North America, EU and central Asia. We also know that most of these countries are developed and above the levels of malnourishment. The role of dairying to curb malnourishment can not be discounted in any manner. It has done wonders for the developed world and it can do it for our Eastern region also.

Nation building through Dairying

On this World Milk Day we need to talk about the goodness of milk for the wellness of the nation. I felt that the theme of the program instead of “Nutrition building through dairying” could have been “Nation building through dairying”. I request all stakeholders in the dairy sector to come together and spread the word about the goodness of milk around the nation. Let there be sharing of impact of dairy development on the economic hard numbers of a state economy. Dairy development impact must also be seen on soft numbers of rural environments like women empowerment, financial inclusion, malnutrition , women and children health, education, and income generation.

I would like to hear from you all the possible ways we can turn around the eastern states starting with West Bengal into Gujarat or Karnataka of India.

Source : A blog by Kuldeep Sharma Chief editor Dairynews7x7.com

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