By Sharon Thambala
Amaravati, Sep 26 (IANS) Aimed at arresting the dwindling numbers of Punganuru cow, a dwarf bovine offering A2 milk rich in medicinal values and endemic to southern Andhra Pradesh, the state government has launched ‘Mission Punganuru’ recently.
“It is about a local breed which is almost dwindling. With modern technology, we are planning to improve the numbers of the breed so that we are able to get the multiplication rate over and above the normal rate,” Animal Husbandry department special chief secretary Poonam Malakondaiah told IANS.
As part of the project, Malakondaiah said the department is working on breeding technology to produce more female Punganuru cows.
With a budget of Rs 73 crore for the mission, the senior IAS officer said the state government wants to reverse the neglect inflicted on this indigenous bovine breed all these years.
Even the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources, which deals with the genetics of different breeds in India has also categorised Punganuru as an endangered species as it numbers dwindled below 2,000 at one time.
She said Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy is very keen on promoting indigenous breeds.
“When we were promoting cows under any scheme, it was mostly about Jersey cows and others renown for maximum yield and being economical. But then, our own local breeds with good medicinal properties and dung best for organic farming were getting ignored and eroded,” she observed.
Malakondaiah asserted that the state cannot allow genetic material to be eroded with that kind of negligence.
On achieving multiplication rates in Punganuru numbers, the animal husbandry department will set up Punganuru cow farms in each district, where the cow’s milk will be collected and sold with departmental certification.
“Once this multiplication takes place, we are going to have in each district Punganuru cow farms, where milk collection centres would be created,” she said.
Priced higher than regular milk with many takers, Punganuru cow milk is expected to compensate the farmers.
However, it will take time as the project stretches for a period of three years.
AP has already started 25,000 farmer training schools called ‘Polam Badi’, in which farmers will be taught about organic farming and best practices.
Elaborating on the dwarf cow, the department’s director, T. Damodar Naidu, said Punganuru is the pride of Andhra Pradesh.
“Punganuru cow originated by virtue of the terrain it lives in, around Punganuru taluka of Chittoor district, abutting Madanapalle and Horseley Hills and Palamaneru,” said Naidu.
In these elevated places, the dwarf cow, also known as big goat for its low maintenance cost, is famous for climbing small hillocks in search of fodder.
“It is called a big goat as far as its maintenance is concerned. So it consumes less feed when compared to a buffalo or cow. Its milk is just sufficient for the farmer’s domestic needs and the calf,” he said.
Amid all these benefits, the only disadvantage with the animal is its inability to be used for draught work by virtue of its dwarf size.
Unlike a regular cow or buffalo, Punganuru cow cannot be used to pull a bullock cart or plough a field but is reared only for its milk, rich in A2 protein.
Naidu said this disadvantage is negated by the low maintenance cost and 4-6 litres milk it offers in a day.
In comparison, a cross breed animal like Holstein or Jersey cow may offer more milk than a Punganuru but that fetches lesser money than the dwarf cow’s milk.
A2 milk, especially from Gir or Ongole animals is being sold at a premium price of Rs 70-100 per litre, said Naidu.
Likewise, Punganuru milk is also being sold at around Rs 120-150 in Hyderabad, however, Naidu pointed out that Rs 70 – 100 cost per litre is a very good price to fetch for a farmer.
“So if you can promote a cow that gives 4-6 litres milk a day, it fetches Rs 280 on selling 4 litres, out of which the owner spends only a little money for its maintenance in the form of feed or concentrated powder. That means a profit of 200 per day, which is a lucrative proposition of 5 – 6k rupees per month,a said Naidu, extrapolating the economics of Punganuru.
Similarly, with a gestation period of only nine months, Punganuru cow can bear a calf in just 12-14 months, making it a good backyard investment for a household, he observed.
So with this motive, the government of AP wants to promote this breed by first multiplying it and then distributing.
For this multiplication purpose, the department will make use of IVF and embryo technology at Pulivendula in Kadapa district with academic support.
Simultaneously, steps will also be taken to encourage farmers in every district to start organic farming, which will take 2-3 years.
“So this panchagavya, divamrutam, dhanamrutam and kashaya concept can be made from the dung and urine of these cows. Punganuru cow also gives 3-4 litres of urine per day, which can be collected and marketed,” he said.
Apart from Punganuru, the department also intends to raise some more indigenous cows which produce good amount of milk, and aligns with the call given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to promote indigenous cow breeds,
Currently, some people are buying Punganuru cow even at a price of Rs 2 lakh for fancy purposes, although it ranges between Rs 40,000 -50,000 rupees.
On multiplication, Naidu says a Punganuru cow price can come down to around Rs 30,000.
(Sharon Thambala can be contacted at [email protected])