LUCKNOW: Despite the central government’s Rashtriya Gokul Mission and the Yogi government’s series of cow conservation schemes, numbers of the livestock census for this year came as a disappointment to Uttar Pradesh .
UP has been taken over by West Bengal to become the state with the highest cattle population over the last census. While UP still has the biggest population of livestock in the country, it has come down from the last census. However, the number of buffaloes specifically has seen a substantial rise as opposed to that of sheep, goats and pigs.
The Centre’s animal husbandry department released the provisional census data of livestock population on Wednesday. This was the 20th livestock census in the country. Cattle population in UP has come down by nearly 4% from 19.6 million in 2012 to 18.8 million in 2019—behind West Bengal’s 19 million. This is a decline of 3.93% for UP over 2012 when UP had 19.6 million cattle.
The number of buffaloes though increased from 30 million to 33 million or 8%, making it the highest in the country.
West Bengal recorded an increase from 16.5 million cattle in 2012 to 19 million in 2019. Bihar also followed the trend with 12.2 million in the last census to 15.3 million in the current one.
Decline of cattle population in UP is noteworthy keeping in mind chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s unrelenting campaign for cow conservation. He has not only ordered district authorities to build cow sheds and rear and feed cattle at government expense but is also taking strict action against erring officers. A few days ago, he had suspended the district magistrate of Maharajganj along with veterinary officers over negligence in cow protection. The government has also imposed a Re 1 cess on every liquor bottle to create a corpus fund for cow shed maintenance. However, the census shows that people are more interested in having buffaloes rather than cows.
“Earlier, farmers were able to dispose unproductive and dry cows in the market and purchase new ones. In the changed policies of the BJP government, it is very difficult for farmers to sell cows so they feel discouraged. A dry buffalo though can be sold in the open market. Hence, people choose to have a buffalo,” said a former director of the state’s animal husbandry department.
Amid a ban on new slaughterhouses, goat population in the state has also come down from 15.5 million to 14.4 million which would have a direct bearing on the state’s meat exports. UP is the largest meat exporter in the world.