While the Indian biometrics-based identification system Aadhaar has penetrated to nearly 93 percent of the total population, now a similar concept of a 12-digit unique identification number is coming up for the cows and buffaloes of our country.
Over one lakh technicians have been deployed across the country on New Year’s day, to affix a tag with 12-digit UID number inside the ear of 88 million cows and buffaloes within this year’s time.
It’s purpose, as per our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will be to track and tag every individual cow and buffalo to check that “they are vaccinated on time, and scientific intervention is made available for better breeding and increasing milk production,” doubling the income of dairy farmers in the process by 2022.
The technicians are armed with tablets and have been trained to fix the polyurethane tag with an applicator. These tags are tamper-proof and are designed to last for years.
Economic Times reported, affixing the tag is a meticulous job, an official said, explaining that the yellow-coloured tag with two parts has to be fixed with the help of a tool in the centre of the earlobe. The tag made from thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer, costing Rs .8 a piece, weighs just eight grams to cause minimum inconvenience to the animal.
For this entire project, the Centre has set aside Rs 148 crore for procuring tags, tag applicators, tablets and health cards.
The Centre has also fixed target to complete the process of each state by the end of this year. For instance, Uttar Pradesh has to tag 14 lakh cattle every month, while Madhya Pradesh has to tag 7.5 lakh every month.
In India, there are 47 million cows and 41 million buffaloes that produce milk. With 16 million cattle, UP has the highest population, followed by Madhya Pradesh (9 million), Rajasthan (8.4 million), Gujarat (6.2 million) and Andhra Pradesh (5.4 million).
To make milk production a far more remunerative job in India, the Centre is also concentrating on producing six million “genetically improved” female bovines every year by 2019. For this purpose, the government implementing a Rs 594-crore project to introduce sex-sorted semen production technology through machines at ten semen stations in the country.
The government is in talks with two US firms for sex-sorted semen technology which ensures only female bovines are born through assisted reproduction.
The Centre and the states have selected the best and healthiest male and female bovines using genomics. They will use the American machines to separate the X and the Y chromosomes, where X is the female chromosome. Once this is done, the semen with the X chromosome will be artificially inseminated into the female. These machines can make up to 14 doses per hour.
The Centre has set aside Rs 200 crore for installing the machines and Rs 275 crore for the cost of sex-sorted semen production.
Points to ponder
- India needs 2,00,000 veterinary doctors while we have only 63000 registered vets in the country as per 2012 livestock census. We need 60,000 doctors for bovines alone. While tagging the cows and buffaloes to track their health and vaccination status is a good idea, do we have the necessary technical infrastructure and qualified personnel in all veterinary centres for a thorough follow up?
- The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UNFAO) report from 2006 says that 18% of all greenhouse gases globally are because of livestock rearing. The numbers have increased in the past ten years. While major environmental organisations are advocating to reduce livestock rearing and meat consumption, India remains the largest beef exporter in the world. With visible implications on the environment, shouldn't our focus be to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and save our environment?