India Milk

In India as in Vietnam, when the availability of land per agricultural asset is low or very low, then cattle becomes a mean to intensify the income and live from agriculture with fewer land. India thus became the 1st world producer of milk (138 million tons in 2014). This spectacular increase in production, linked to the cooperative system encouraged by the NDDB (B. Dorin, 2002, 2009), pushes us to ask about its viability and its economic durability. The India Milk Project, financed by the CIRAD/INRA has for general objective to understand the undergoing transformation of Indian dairy systems – as a whole and in its diversity – and to assess to which extent it represents a sustainable development model, able to address jointly food security, social inclusion and environmental issues. More specifically, the project intends to come up with answers to the following questions: Who are the Indian dairy farmers and what are their practices? What are the extent and consequences for the ecosystems of the decline in multifunctional livestock and of the dairy intensification? What conditions are required for the rural poor to really benefit from the dairy development? How does dairy farming fit into the more global biophysical and economic development path of the Indian subcontinent and what is its sustainability in this modernization context?

To achieve this objective, IndiaMilk offers an original multidisciplinary, multi-scalar and long-term perspective approach, drawing together several sources of data coming from national statistics and surveys as well as interviews carried out during long and meticulous fieldwork. The project consists  of four work packages: (i) Differentiation of Indian dairy farms; (ii) Impact of livestock farming on local and global ecosystems; (iii) Dairy producers’ access  to markets; (iv) Indian dairy and metabolic transformation of the Indian economy. We combine two specific conceptual frameworks – agrarian system (WP1) and market functioning institutional analyses (WP3) – with two sets of methods for environmental impact assessment (WP2) and national biophysical accounting (WP4).

Coordinated by Claire Aubron, professor at Montpellier SupAgro (Umr Selmet) and researcher affiliated to the CSH, the project beneficiated from a funding from the meta-programme GloFoods (INRA/CIRAD) and allowed to team 5 senior researchers from 5 different institutions ((Cirad, Csh, Enfa, Inra, Montpellier-SupAgro). In 2016/2017, a Phd thesis has been launched by Yvane Marblé, a first economic review has been published by B. Dorin and C. Aubron, and communications have been presented at seminars. In July 2017, a funding for a research assistant was obtained, for a en data engineering & bio-economic modelling engineer to work on IndiaMilk at the CSH.