Indian Feed Industry: Past perspective and future challenges

Livestock wealth is deemed as the oldest wealth resource for mankind and was once considered symbol of economic status in the society. Even today, livestock keeping a crucial role in rural economy and livelihood security. India’s livestock population is the largest in the world. As per 19th livestock census, India has 190 million cattle, 108 million buffaloes, 65 million sheep, 135 million goat, 10 million pigs and 729 million poultry birds. In 2010-11 livestock generated outputs worth Rs 2075 billion (at 2004-05 prices), which comprised 4% of the GDP and 26% of the agricultural GDP. Interestingly enough, the total output in GDP from livestock sector was higher than the value of food grains.
Driven by the structural changes in agriculture, and the overall consumption patterns, utility of livestock under newer scheme, things has been undergoing a steady transformation. The non-food functions of livestock are becoming weaker. Importance of livestock as source of ‘draught power’ has declined considerably due to mechanization of agricultural operations and declining farm size. Chemical fertilizers are increasingly replacing use of dung manure. On the other hand, their importance as a source of quality food has increased. Sustained income and economic growth, a fast-growing urban population, burgeoning middle income class, changing lifestyles, increasing proportion of women in workforce, improvements in transportation and storage practices and rise of supermarket culture especially in cities and towns are fuelling rapid increase in consumption of animal food products.
Status of feeds and fodders
In India the geographical area under fodder is hardly 2 percent of the world’s geographical area under fodder production. This has put tremendous pressure on the availability of fodder. Only 4.4 percent (8.36 million hector) of the cultivated area is under forage crops. The annual total fodder production is 907.85 million tons (509.01 million tons green & 389.84 million tons dry), where as the requirement is about 1759 million tons (1083 million tons green & 676 million tons dry) (Matti, 2007, to support the existing livestock population. The present fodder resource of the country can meet 46.60 percent of the requirement with a deficit of 53 percent green and 41 percent of dry fodder.
Over the last two decades (1985-86 to 2005-06) availability of various types of feed has increased. Even though availability of feed resources vary from area to area, but during this period, the country as a whole recorded increase of 52% (240.7 to 365.8 Mt) in crop residues, 76.0% (19.6 to 34.5 Mt) in concentrates and 1.8% (124.3 to 126.6 Mt) in green forages (10th-12th census).
To overcome the deficiency in fodder production, Government of India came up with a proposal in 10th five-year plan. The priority was to ensure Provision of nutritious feed and fodder through promotion of fodder crops & fodder trees. To improve productivity of pasturelands, improved fodder varieties were introduced and wasteland was developed for forage production. Feed and Fodder Development Scheme was also launched, which provided assistance to States for enhancing feed and fodder production. Establishment of fodder banks, enrichment of agricultural byproducts and supply of fodder mini kit are the major initiatives to enhance the feed supply. In spite of this, there is a gap in the demand vs. supply. As per estimates, the deficit of dry fodder, concentrates and green fodder currently is 10, 33 and 35 percent respectively, which by 2020 is likely to increase slightly up to 11%, 35% and 45% respectively.
Present status of Feed industry in India
Due to deficiency in quality feeds and fodders, the high producing animals are not getting their required nutrients, resulting in lower production, which is much below their genetic ability to produce meat or milk. This lead to the idea of balanced feeding and subsequently the introduction of manufactured compound feed on commercial basis. The term “compound feed” refers to the feed that is nutritionally balanced and is manufactured using the facilities of an analytical laboratory for testing its quality and is produced under the supervision of nutritionists. Actual feed manufacturing on a commercial scale and on scientific basis started around 1965, with the setting up of medium-sized feed plants in northern and western India. Feed was produced mainly to cater to the needs of dairy cattle as the poultry sector was not developed at that time and was restricted to backyard production only. With beef being a sensitive issue here, even the pork industry is almost non-existent till now in the country. In 60’s the production of feed industry was 50,000 tones and now it has grown up to 28 million tones (CLFMA, 2015). Though the feed industry in India being almost 5 decades old, it is still in a nascent stage, supplying only 10 percent of cattle and aqua feed and 50 percent of poultry feed.
Feed requirement (CLFMA, 2012; AHI Analysis):

  • Compound Feed Requirement: 80 Million Tonnes/Year
  • Requirement for Dairy Animals: 30 Million Tonnes
  • Present Market for Compound Dairy Feed is 5.5 Million Tonnes/Year
  • Private feed Sector: 1.2 Million Tonnes
  • Dairy Cooperatives: 2.5 Million Tonnes
  • Unorganised Sector: 1.8 Million Tonnes

Today, feed is produced in various forms like Mash, Crumbles, Pellets, Blocks, Nuts, Meals and Rolls. The National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) has developed and is now supplying on commercial scale, UMMB lick to improve the nutritive value of traditional cattle diet. After conducting successful research trials on different aspects of Bypass Protein Feed at NDRI and other research centers, NDDB is now producing bypass protein feed on a commercial scale, which is gaining popularity among farmers, as it is bringing improvements in growth, health productivity and reproduction of dairy animals. The different feed ingredients used in the industry are:

  • Cereals and Grains Maize, Sorghum, Bajra, Wheat, Rice
  • Cakes and Meals Soyabean, Ground nut, Mustard, Rapeseed, Sesame
  • By products -Maize gluten, Chunis, Molasses, Wheat bran, Rice bran
  • Feeds of animal origin -Meat meal, Fish meal, Bone meal, Ca (PO4)2, Feather meal
  • Feed additives and supplements-Prebiotics, Probiotics, Enzymes, Antibiotics, coccidiostats.

Distribution of Feed Industry in India:
The Indian Feed industry has spread its wings all over India with near about 50 registered feed mills in Maharashtra, 37 in Karnataka, 35 in Tamil Nadu and more than 60 mills in northern zone. The following graph shows the distribution of feed industry from four zones of India in 2011(allindiadairy).
Quality control and quality assurance of feed:
Feed quality has been defined as “any of the features that make something what it is” and “the degree of excellence which it possesses.”
In India, a statutory body of Bureau of Indian Standards regulates the quality control. It was established under BIS Act, 1986. Bureau has set up sub-committees for the standardization of various types of commodities. A subcommittee on animal feeds called Animal feeds sectional Committee has been specifically set up to check the quality of animal feeds and feed ingredients.
The standards laid down by the sub committees are published as BIS specifications. The approved published standards are revised from time to time.
In India, feed industry is represented by association called Compound livestock feed manufacturers association(CLFMA).
It has proposed different specifications for poultry, dairy cattle and buffalo. In the organized sector, animal feed business is quite competitive and feed manufacturers therefore endeavor to produce feed of the highest possible quality.
To check the quality of feed, it is analyzed for proximate principles regularly. The feed is also analysed for amino acids, aflatoxin, ochratoxin, castor, tannins and urease activity. There is a high degree of awareness of feed microbiology among feed millers. Feed raw materials and finished products are subjected to microbial counts, Salmonella and Escherichia coli testing and mould count. Some progressive feed millers have acquired the latest technologies and modern equipment such as high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) and near-infrared (NIR) analysers. All vitamins, minerals and other feed additives are regularly analysed using modern analytical techniques. Most of industries are advocating HACCP-hazard analysis critical control point measures to ensure safe feeds. Indian scientists are constantly working to upgrade the quality of Indian feed and make it completely safe for animal feeding.
Government is also taking control measures by legislation to ensure quality and safe feeds at controlled cost. Many regulations have been put forward viz.
The Prevention of Black Marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act,1980
The Standards of Weights and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rules,1977
The Consumer Protection Act,1986
Schedule of Tariff Values of the Articles Liable to Cess for 2006-07
Agricultural Produce Cess Act,1940
Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation) Order,1998
The Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules,1955
However, in spite of all these measures and legislations, feed quality checks in India leaves much to be desired. All said and done, not enough is done to keep a cap on feed quality in this country. This is very much true for small scale feed production, where adulteration is rampart.
Future Challenges for Indian feed industry
The Feed industry has several reservations about implementing BIS standards. There is a lack of flexibility in these standards and they are lagging far behind the industry’s products. For cattle, they have not been revised for 30 years, while the BIS standards for poultry are obsolete. BIS is a halt to innovations as all innovations would have to be passed by BIS, and such a process is likely to take several years to complete. The classification of feed additives is a major hindrance to the Indian feed industry. Worldwide, animal feed supplements and additives are covered under the Harmonized System of Nomenclature (HSN), to which India is a signatory. In the HSN, all feed ingredients are listed under the “free” category for import, but the Indian Government put them into the “restricted” category. These products are vital ingredients of compound animal feed for improving the quality of the final feed and making it conversion-efficient. The import duty rate in most Asian countries is zero but in India it is about 40%. Another threat to the industry is posed by local sales taxes which are going up with every changing government.
This present decade may see significant changes in restructuring, mergers, acquisitions, amalgamations, joint ventures, diversification, intégration and efficient service chains, e-commerce and use of the latest information technology in global tenders, trading, export/import and other commercial activities.
The root of all these developments should be the scientific development of feed manufacturing technology. Hence, Indian feed industry will increasingly use biotechnology, more scientific formulations, new molecules and natural and herbal products to improve animal productivity.
Indian agriculture will also use biotechnology and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to support the feed industry. The country could greatly reduce the gap between requirement and availability of feeds, provided it opts for the cultivation of GM crops, which may usher the country into another spell of green revolution. Then, in that case the even higher proportion of grains can be diverted for animal feeding, apart from more availability of grain byproducts and oil cakes as animal feed.
Ishfaq A. Dhobi, SKUAST-K
Bilal A. Malla, National Dairy Research Institute