Farmers have always considered cattle as an asset who is also a living member and part of the family. However, in recent times the economics has become quite distorted, and the only consideration for a farmer has become the daily returns in terms of cash i.e. milk. Hence desi cows have been ignored, and exotic ones have been promoted because they give 'more milk'
Apart from ethics, this form of economics is highly flawed, because input-cost analysis is ignored and only gross revenues are considered. Farmer, or any investor needs to calculate his costs carefully, estimate his asset's potential to grow over time and cumulative cash it generates on a daily basis.
Let us just focus on the aspect of growth of assets and compare the profitability from desi cow and exotic cows.
Desi Cows, particularly local breeds give between 10-15 calvings in its lifetime (may be even more) while exotic cows can barely manage 5.
Assuming 50% rate of birth of male and females. Desi Cows give 6 female calves, which grow on to become new mothers (in 3 years time) and start the multiplication again, while 6 male calves, grow on to command high price for traction/as bullocks. So a 20,000/- investment in one desi cow has multiplied at least 40-50 times in 20 years just from the dam and her first generation!
On the other hand, exotic cows give about 3 female and 3 male calves at best. The male calves do not fetch much value in the market, and end up in slaughterhouses at a very young age, while female calves have high infertility rates due to unscientific cross breeding.
The farmers have been made to believe that Desi Cows give less milk, but did they calculate cumulative milk production, the lower input costs and medical expenditures?
A message to budding agripreneurs, (total) cash flow is important but so is capital appreciation :) Return of investment in any of the asset classes is as per risk but returns from a desi cow are certain :) due to high disease resistance and fertility rates. This was the reason of wealth of India in the past - cow based agriculture and healthy population.
Shivali is a graduate from London School of Economics and co-founder at Desi Cows for Better India Trust. Contact: email@example.com