Digitalisation can bridge the protein gap in India


By 2050, the global population is expected to reach 10 billion, needing 70% more protein from a current demand of 202 MT*. In this scenario, animal protein will play a vital role in meeting the nutritional requirement of the planet. With limited resources, the animal protein industry should fulfil future demand and sustainably ensure consistent quality without causing irreparable environmental damage.
Digitalization can play a vital role in improving efficiencies and responding to the growing requirements of proactively engaged consumers. To better understand the current Impact of Digitalization in the Indian Poultry and Dairy landscape and how it can facilitate and bridge the protein gap in nutrition, Benison Media and Jordbrukare organised a digital interactive session on 26th March.
Dr._Tanweer_AlamDr Tanweer Alam, Marketing Director, Kemin South Asia, moderated the discussion with the sthe eminent speakers Mr. Tarun Sridhar-Former Union Secretary, Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, GOI; Mr. Alon Turkaspa– Director of Business Development, EggXYt and Dr Girish Channarayapatna, Sr. Technical Director-Precision Livestock farming, Evonik Animal Nutrition. 70+ participants from India and Abroad attended the 90-minute session, and the coverage had 500+ views in the first two weeks.
“It is observed that Indians are consuming far more quantities of carbohydrates than protein,” he said in the opening statement showcasing the protein and carbohydrate imbalance in an Indian diet.
While presenting the protein balance sheet of India, Dr Alam said the average protein requirement for 1.38 bn population of the country is around 25 to 30 MMT, out of which plant protein (pulses, wheat, rice, etc.) is contributing 15 MMT and almost the same quantity of 14 MMT is coming from animal protein (egg, fish, chicken, meat, egg etc.).
We all are observing that the cost of production of protein has been spiking due to an increase in various raw material prices and that in turn is increasing the protein purchasing price for the consumers. As a protein-deficient country, India needs all the more measures to get ‘more from less and bring in more efficiency with the concept of digitalisation at various levels. Below are the excerpts.
Dr Alam: In India, it is a production by mass rather than mass production. Even now more than 70% of the milk is coming from unorganized sector. How can digitalisation add value with such a flattened segmented model of livestock farming towards bottom of pyramid?
Mr. Sridhar: India has a unique dairy model with the largest livestock population in the world, it is the biggest milk producer also. As per animal husbandry department, the country produced 198.4 Million Tonnes (MT) of milk. But we are still poorest in productivity with per animal production of 1700-1800 kgs per annum while the global average is about 2400 kgs per annum.
Tarun_ShridharUnfortunately, people at the highest echelons of policymaking have yet to fully realise the potential of the concept of digitalisation. Digitalisation is one of the means for optimum utilisation of resources and for balanced rational scientific decision-making.
If one overarching issue with Indian dairy sector i.e., productivity can be addressed properly then all other issues would be just a subset of productivity. Digitalisation can play a huge role in the following fields:
Breed Selection: The focus needs to move from phenotype to genotype. Instead, it should be a blend of both. The Indian government and institutions should take the responsibility to provide the genetic information to the farmers.
Feed: Second most critical element is feed. As a country, we have limited analysis about the composition of the dairy feed except for 10-12% of the organised compound feed. We lack information about the nutrient requirement of animals.
Water: Another ignored factor in dairy management is water. No water policies have considered animals’ water requirement, which is one of the most important factors in determining the quantity and quality of the milk. There is no data in terms of availability of water per livestock or quality parameters, digitalisation can bring important transformation. Technology can also play a big role in the management of pastures.
Processing and Marketing: In terms of processing and marketing, digitalisation is very elementary. Farmer is only producing and selling the raw milk without having knowledge about the technologies and practices to covert milk into value-added products. The farmer having such information need not to depend only on the procurement agencies.
Moreover, in India, dairy is associated only with cows and buffaloes. While 50% of the milk is coming from buffalo and 75-80% of global buffalo milk production is produced from India and the rest from countries like Pakistan, China, and Italy. Buffalo is a unique animal to India and we should collate and compile data on its genetics. Also, goat, sheep, camel, and equine milk should be considered in dairy.
Dr. Alam: The intervention of technology can be very different as per the level of need, like addressing the animal need on an individual level at the bottom of the pyramid can be more relevant while addressing the genetics need can be more relevant at the top of the pyramid. Considering the uniqueness of the Indian subcontinent, how do you see the digital intervention making the highest impact in the overall livestock landscape?
Mr. Turkaspa: The Indian subcontinent is very diverse with its unique problems. Even in the case of Israel, a very small country with its own agricultural challenges, once the technology was implemented, it had to be modified as per the geography or rather as per the case.
Alon_TurkaspaFirstly, one needs to understand how one is going to implement the technology or go-to-market approach to make money out of this technology. Also, need to look into your channel to market into a specific place, as it can’t be door to door selling to each farmer.
Breeding and feeding are the two major challenges as well as power players in the industry. If you can solve a problem together with breeding or feeding companies, there has to be a synergy of the technology with these companies. There is no one solution giving maximum impact. Even the impact won’t be measured in terms of only productivity but will be the scale of implementation.
Specific to the genetic solution, it is attractive as it is top of the pyramid but it also takes a lot of time to develop and get approvals for a genetic solution, and genetic maintenance is also required. It is about seeing the overall ecosystem rather than technology in isolation.
Dr. Alam: Precision livestock farming for dairy is quite different from poultry when it comes to individual bird management. How AI can bring more advancement towards livestock farming?
Dr. Channarayapatna: Though many industries like retail, banking, e-commerce, logistics etc. are already using technology but there is hardly any significant usage of technology in the livestock or poultry industry.
Dr._Girish_ChannarayapatnaData analytics converts a vast volume of data into insightful information, bringing immense benefits for industrial growth. In the case of poultry production, each flock is unique and we need to have an animal-centric approach to support production management, bioanalytic, self-learning algorithms, etc. For example – it can help to know the best feeding scheme for optimum broiler performance.
Though solutions are available in the market we need to ensure that it is able to improve the poultry production and quality through holistic monitoring of the parameters. It should help in optimise planning based on accurate predictions like giving an alert about the issues which can raise the problems so that producer can take the corrective measures and prevent the losses. It can also support supply and demand predictions.
Technology has the potential to change the competitive landscape in the market. As technology disrupts the market there will also be discontinuation of the present market structure.
Dr. Alam: Would you please share the government initiatives for livestock farming which can bring real change?
Mr. Sridhar: India has great traditional wisdom in livestock farming and agriculture. If this can be documented and blended with AI tools, it can take the Indian dairy and agriculture sector to next level.
20th Livestock census was conducted using digitalisation i.e., it was updated in a real-time manner which ensured absolute numbers and also created a huge database. It can help the government make decisions regarding artificial insemination, animal health, disease management, or socio-economic parameters of livestock farming.
Another initiative is genomic selection, the genomic chip for the indigenous cattle through which one can avail all information about its genetics.
PashuAdhar – 150 million animal data is already registered and in a couple of years, it can reach more than 600 million animals which would also include goat, sheep, and pigs etc.
e-GOPALA app – It is a comprehensive platform that links the farmer with semen provider, feed provider, technology provider, experts, and even markets. But these are standalone achievements and we need to integrate this data into algorithms that can lead to better management.
Today, India is producing 198 MMT of milk with around 100 million milking animals and with digitalisation the same production might be achieved with 1/4th number of animals. Even if India can just double the production, it can be a game-changer and technology can also suggest how to handle that milk.
There have been certain path-breaking initiatives taken in terms of digitalisation. But these government initiatives can be effective only when farmers and other stakeholders of the industry capitalise on that and push the government to achieve the actual outcome to use that data to transform the way business is conducted.
Dr. Alam: Israel has been phenomenal in terms of getting the best efficiency but it would not have been a smooth journey. What are the challenges in the commercialisation of technology that you have seen in your country and what it can be for a country like India?
Mr. Turkaspa: Entrepreneurs first need to understand it can’t be done alone. Israel is a good example in terms of technology adoption in its dairy farms which aimed to solve its problem like small land, expensive resources, etc. Though it might not be the most profitable dairy industry but it has very high-yielding cows. The second reason for the success of this technological intervention is the quota system in Israel farmers are not competing against each other.
While for India different challenges need to be considered. Silo data is one example of how the whole ecosystem is not working together. That means each different stakeholder in the industry has its own silo data and no one is sharing it. So, first need is to break down these barriers whether it is data or commercial. Also, the solution should remain valid when silo data fall eventually due to regulation or commercial interest.
Next is the business model, while introducing new technology into the industry, think deeply who is expected to pay, I urge the entrepreneur not to consider the farmer or consumer paying for such solutions. As it is about the scope of improving efficiency.
Last thing is to test the solutions onsite where it is supposed to be implemented. For example, if a solution needs to be checked in four different seasons, my advice would be to check in 16 different seasons especially if it is global company. Which will take a lot of time as the weather is different in different geographies. The solution should reach onsite as fast as possible.
Dr. Alam: To embrace the good practices of technology, we should be able to leverage the present technology. The industry is invariable in data sharing while technology adoption demands collaboration. What is your take on this?
Dr. Channarayapatna: For collaborative data platforms, the industry should be informed about the practical aspect like the impact of collaborative data sharing is getting the best practices resulting from such a platform replicated in the industry.
The basis of replication and scaling out is standardisation. Digitalisation offers objective standardisation of the core key performance indicators (KPIs) for poultry farming and using this standardised data flow will certainly improve the standard operating procedures. Digitalisation is able to define such a strategy and monitor and control it afterward.
Dr. Alam: Do you think digitalisation can help in replicating the best practices from different countries especially in dairy farming?
Mr. Sridhar: Yes, it can. Dairy farming has been part of the social and cultural life of rural areas. Today, if you discuss with the next generation of a dairy farming family, hardly anybody would want to continue with dairy farming. While an FAO report said, in India, every one rupee invested well in livestock can make you earn four rupees.
We need to make dairy and livestock farming an attractive profession for the next generation which can only be done by introducing the technology. Even it can push urbanities to the dairy sector and create farmer entrepreneur or non-traditional farmers.
Dr. Alam: How digitalisation can bring consumer awareness on chicken or egg or milk consumption?
Mr. Sridhar: Digitalization can ensure traceability and integrity of product which bring consumer confidence by providing them authentic information about the source of the product.
Like INAPH program (Information Network of Animal Productivity and Health) by NDDB is capturing all information which can be useful from farmer to the processor and ultimately to the consumer.
India has been high in quantity and poor in quality. Though the country is the number one producer for the last two decades, it stands nowhere in dairy exports. Digitalisation can help trace the quality of the product throughout the value-chain, starting from the inputs going into production until it reaches the consumer’s plate.
Dr. Alam: In Israel, there are large size farms where managing recorded production is also established. How do you see the use of technology for the bottom of pyramid-based dairy farmers in India?
Mr. Turkaspa: Israel dairy sector is quite unique, just 150,000 cows in total with an average milk yield of 30 litres and average farm size of 300-500 animals but necessarily the most profitable. But farmers have a quota system so each farmer has the approval to sell a specific quantity of milk. The only way out for the farmer to make more money is to optimise with limited resources through technology. That is why there was a strong incentive system to put the technologies which resulted in 99% of animals in the country having sensors.
Next, the positive thing is all farmers are on the same data platform. But this has its own issues like with such a small industry and few big players, farmers face a hard time to remain competitive enough.
But in other countries like India, the reason for adopting technology can be consumer trust which can be earned by ensuring safe food, traceability and transparency in the system.
Dr Alam: This has been successful in a country like Israel due to openness in sharing the data. Can you suggest any such platform which can be useful in the Indian context?
Dr. Channarayapatna: Collaborative data is of two types – internal and external. Internal collaboration is like you opt for an integrated system in a poultry facility starting from genetics, feed, production, and processing, where each segment has its own data. This needs to be integrated and consolidated into one piece of information, which can be done using a data collaboration platform within the organisation.
For external collaboration, industry mindset needs to be changed. The whole industry will be benefited as the best practices will be shared. As there is no one supplier of software solution or a company who can do everything and hence collaboration comes into the picture.
It would help to set a benchmark and producers can compare it to the global standard or local standard. We as a company are offering a solution that can provide big data, biostatistics, self-learning algorithms in the value chain.
To fully harness the potential of data management we need to break the data silos and get collaborative data that can be transformed into more useful information for the poultry producers to make an impactful decision.
Event videos can be accessed on the YouTube channel of BENISON Media.
*Future Protein Supply and Demand: Strategies and Factors Influencing a Sustainable Equilibrium
Read Latest Issue : Think Grain Think Feed