Tuesday, June 25, 2024
India News

Punjab plans to leverage Brazil’s expertise in curbing livestock diseases

New Delhi: The Punjab government is discussing scientific cooperation with Brazil, known for its expertise in animal health, to curb livestock ailments that can cause farm-income losses and worsen rural distress.

India saw an outbreak of the lumpy skin disease (LSD) in 2022 that has so far killed more than 200,000 cows, hurting milk output.

The plan involves monitoring occurrence of animal diseases, their prevention and management of outbreaks, with the possibility of jointly developing vaccines and other medicines, a Brazilian diplomat said.

“We had a meeting with the chief minister of Punjab. We also got in touch with three big universities —Punjab Agricultural University, GADVASU (Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University) and Lovely Professional University (a private university in the state). We are planning some scientific cooperation with them. We are thinking of a joint research project with them. It’s not a technical cooperation. We are going to discuss a joint research project in the field of monitoring the occurrences of animal diseases, to prevent outbreaks and develop some strategies to cope with outbreaks if they arise,” Angelo de Queiroz Mauricio, agricultural attaché at the Brazil embassy in New Delhi told Mint.

The two sides could also explore developing Ayurvedic medicines for veterinarian diseases.

“There is going to be another working group dealing with the possibilities for cooperation between universities and research institutes. The possibility of developing vaccines together were discussed during a meeting with the Lovely Professional University, precisely with the department of Ayurvedic medicines for animals. An Indian company has already started to discuss development of some products. India is in touch with some Brazilian companies. There is a long way ahead to develop ayurvedic products for veterinarian treatments. This is one thing that we are going to explore,” Mauricio added.

This assumes significance amid India’s growing demand for milk and its products. India has the world’s largest population of livestock and is the world’s biggest milk producer. Nearly all the milk it produces is consumed domestically. According to the 2023 Household Consumption Expenditure Survey, the per capita consumption of milk is only around 330 ml per person per day. Milk production in the country was 230.58 million tonnes in 2022-23, little changed from previous years due to several factors, including the lumpy skin disease outbreak.

Lovely Professional University, which has memorandums of understanding with 11 Brazilian universities, is keen on further reinforcing the potential for fruitful cooperation, said its spokesperson. 

“We recently hosted a delegation from the Brazil embassy, engaging in a highly productive discussion regarding collaborative research on livestock diseases between universities in India and Brazil. Despite being in the early stages, the deliberations yielded promising outcomes. With an upcoming meeting scheduled in the following weeks, we are optimistic about the progress from the discussion to actionable plans swiftly,” the spokesperson said.

Queries sent to the deans and spokespersons of Punjab Agricultural University, Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, and the chief executive officer and the Secretary of Investment Promotion Punjab remained unanswered till press time.

The numbers of cattle deaths since July 2022 to 25 July 2023 was 200,001, with the estimated loss of 30,000 loss per cattle, as per National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) norms. This led the government to vaccinate over 115.7 million animals against LSD till July last year, according to official data.

The research projects would be funded jointly by Brazil and Punjab.

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“Funding will be a joint thing between the governments of Brazil and Punjab … We don’t know it (corpus) because we don’t have the projects yet. There is a commitment to set up a working group to start developing joint projects and once the projects are finalised, we will have the budget and the action plan,” Mauricio said.

“The joint working group will be set up by the embassy of Brazil and Invest Punjab, and headed by the investment promotion minister of Punjab Anmol Gagan Maan. The first meeting with her has already been scheduled for the first week of May to discuss it at length,” he added.

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Published: 23 Apr 2024, 05:28 PM IST