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India is a land of smallholders and its dairy and poultry sectors are no exception. The average herd size of the dairy sector is less than four animals per household. Nevertheless, India is the largest milk producer in the world (230 million tons in 2022-23), followed by the US at 103 million tons. The country has come a long way from being a milk-deficit country in the 1950s and 60s to a self-sufficient one with some surplus. Milk is not only the biggest agri-commodity (bigger than paddy, wheat, pulses and sugarcane put together), but the sector also employs 80 million rural households. Of the total workers engaged in milk production, more than 70 percent are women. On the other hand, the poultry sector has been the fastest-growing agriculture sector over the last two decades. Between 2000 and 2020, India’s poultry meat and egg production grew at an annual average rate of growth of 9 and 7 percent, respectively. India is now the third-largest producer of eggs in the world and the fifth-largest producer of broilers. In 2020, almost 80 percent of poultry production (in value terms) came from the organized contract farming segment and almost 70 percent of poultry farmers engaged through contract farming are smallholder farmers with a flock size of 3,000-10,000 birds. This policy briefs sheds light on the factors that have contributed to the growth of the two livestock sectors as well as challenges that remain to be addressed.

The policy brief is based on the studies: Gulati and Juneja (2023) Poultry Revolution in India: Lessons for smallholder production systems. ZEF Working Paper No. 225; Gulati and Juneja (2023) White Revolution in India: What smallholders can do given the right ecosystem, ZEF Working Paper No. 224.