[Opportunity] Internship IndiaMilk project

Internship’s proposal – IndiaMilk project

Modelling past and future diets of the Indian livestock (1960-2050):

a macro-biophysical approach


India has the largest bovine population with 192 million cattle and 108 million buffaloes. It has been the world’s largest producer of milk for more than fifteen years and continues to grow at an annual rate of 4%. About 70 million farms allegedly produce milk in the country and, in 2012, the average size of the herd per household having some bovines was less than three cattle or buffaloes, and 70% of bovines were raised in farms with less than one hectare of land, some of them being landless. Structured as such, Indian dairy farms are expected to play a role in ensuring household food security, alleviating poverty and providing employment in rural areas, which turns out to be a critical challenge in a country counting 30% of its population living under the poverty line.

Feeding these animals in a sustainable manner is another important challenge. According to national statistics, the country’s bovine herd has grown in size and changed its composition over the last decades. Areas under fodder crops have slightly increased, especially in irrigated regions, and those of permanent pastures have tended to decline. This suggests that other feeding resources, such as crop residues or concentrates, have played a significant role in the dairy sector growth. Is a “feeding transition”, similar to that observed in other parts of the world with an increasing use of concentrates, likely to occur in Indian dairy farming? Are these concentrates made of industrial by-products or of grains directly competing with human nutrition? What is the role of fodder crops, crop residues, permanent pastures and other spontaneous feeding resources? How sustainable is the Indian feeding pattern?

The general objective of the IndiaMilk research project, currently funded by Agropolis Fondation, is to understand the undergoing transformation of Indian dairy systems – as a whole and in their diversity – and to assess to which extent it represents a sustainable development model, able to address jointly food security, social inclusion and environmental issues. Previous field studies that have been carried out by Aubron et al. in different parts of the subcontinent from 2014 have confirmed the major role of households that are less endowed with land and water in dairy farming. They have also highlighted contrasted feeding practices between farmers according to their access to resources, especially to cultivated land. Yet, the state of the art on livestock feeding and the comparison of estimates for India over the last decades provided by Dorin et al. have so far shown that none of the models or databases used to assess Indian livestock feeding take into account this diversity in terms of farms structure. As part of the fourth work package of the IndiaMilk project, the research team now explore the different rounds of national surveys together with national statistics to work on this diversity of livestock farms at national level, their feeding practices and the way they have been changing over time. Such a knowledge might be very useful to design a new approach of feed resources uses in India.

Work Objectives of the internship
(1)    Resume, verify and improve a macro-biophysical model built at CSH to simulate past (1966-2014) and future (up to 2050) uses of various biomasses (cereals and oilseeds, crop residues, green fodders, scavenging, etc.) to feed livestock (buffalos, cows, poultry, pigs, etc.). This step requires to further document, check and analyse data from different sources (Livestock censuses, Icrisat-VDista, Human Development Survey, National Sample Survey rounds on “Land & Livestock” and “Household consumption”…) in order to refine unsatisfactory parts of the model and include/test in the model a typology of livestock-rearing farms.
(2) (if time allows it) Build a visual interface in R-Shiny (or Microsoft Access) to scan (and map) past evolutions and simulations, check data and assumptions, and simulate future scenarios.

Expected qualifications, requirements
-   Knowledge and experiences in statistics and database management
-   Knowledge and experience in various software (notably: SAS, R & Shiny, Stata)
-   Interest in agriculture, livestock, poverty and environmental issues
-   Knowledge and experience in agriculture economics and econometrics will be a plus
-   Discipline, curiosity, senses of initiative and teamwork
-   Good skill in oral presentation and report writing
-   Fluent English

Academic profile
Master’s level student in statistics with interest in agricultural and development issues, or in agricultural sciences with good skills and interest in statistics.

Institutional frame
Work placement agreement with the Centre for Social Sciences and Humanities (CSH, New Delhi)

Dr. Bruno Dorin, CSH, New Delhi, India Prof. Himanshu, CSH, New Delhi, India
Assoc. Prof. Claire Aubron, Montpellier SupAgro, UMR SELMET, Montpellier, France
Dr. Jean-Daniel Cesaro, CIRAD, UMR SELMET, Dakar, Sénégal

6 months internship, from March-April 2019

Internship allowances (about 570 € per month)

Application and deadline
Send CV and cover/motivation letter to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. before January 31st, 2019 (included)