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India's Focus on Gir Cows under the Rashtriya Gokul Mission



  Apr 16, 2024

India's Focus on Gir Cows under the Rashtriya Gokul Mission



Q: What is the Rashtriya Gokul Mission?

A: It's an Indian government initiative aimed at improving the quality and productivity of indigenous cattle breeds. The mission focuses on research and development of high-quality semen, intended to increase female calf births and provide access to this semen for artificial insemination.


Q: Why has the Gir cow breed become so dominant under this program?

A: Several factors contribute:

Initial Success: The mission began in regions where Gir improved milk production in crossbred cattle.

Adaptability: Gir cows adapt well to various climates across India.

High Milk Yield: Purebred Gir cows have the highest milk production among indigenous breeds.

Farmer Preference: Gir cows are perceived as being easier to handle.


Q: What are some other important indigenous cattle breeds in India?

A: India boasts a rich diversity of indigenous breeds, each with valuable traits:

Sahiwal: A high milk-yielding breed from northern India

Tharparkar: Known for adaptability to arid regions in northwest India

Red Sindhi: Another high milk-yielding breed

Kankrej: A dual-purpose breed (milk and draft work) from Gujarat

Badri: A hardy, mountain breed from the Himalayas


Q: What are the concerns about a singular focus on Gir cows?

A: Experts raise several issues:

Threat to Breed Purity: Continuous crossbreeding could lead to the loss of unique traits in diverse indigenous breeds that adapt them to specific regions.

Mixed Results: Graded Gir cows don't necessarily guarantee better milk production in all regions.

Sustainability: The needs of Gir cows might not align with local conditions or farmers' resources.


Q: What are the proposed alternatives?

A: Experts suggest:

Local Focus: Identifying genetically superior cows within diverse indigenous breeds like Sahiwal, Tharparkar, etc., and selectively breeding them within their own regions.

Holistic Approach: Consider not just milk production but also regional adaptability, breed-specific strengths, and the farmer's ability to care for the cows.


Q: How does this compare to historical "improvement" efforts like the White Revolution?

A: There's a concern that the focus on a single breed could repeat the mistakes of importing exotic breeds, where increased milk production didn't always translate into better livelihoods for farmers due to increased costs and challenges of care.
Let me know if you would like more information on any specific indigenous breeds!



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