According to Amul Managing Director, RS Sodhi, plant-based products are fake natural products that mislead consumers away from animal products such as milk, meat, and eggs. He claims that companies that produce plant-based products are harming the animal husbandry industry by profiting from them.
Sodhi lashed out at the lobbying done by plant-based product makers at the expense of animal husbandry producers during a webinar jointly organized on Monday by Godrej Agrovet and The Hindu Business Line on ‘What Ails India’s Animal Husbandry Sector?’
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‘Plant-based products are nothing more than factory-made, chemically-made artificial products laced with synthetic flavors and a slew of chemicals and emulsifiers. The plant content in such products is limited to six to seven percent, with the remainder being entirely synthetic. And they sell it at 2-3x of the price of natural products,’ said Sodhi, while delivering the keynote address in the webinar.
Sodhi’s remarks came amid recent international lobbying for ‘plant-based dairy.’ ‘Because of their high profitability, these companies can spend on lobbying and influence policymakers and consumers in favor of such fake products,’ he said, urging animal husbandry stakeholders to work together to raise consumer awareness of the long-term ill effects of these plant-based fake products.’
Sodhi emphasized the importance of allocating more resources from the state and central budgets to the sector that provides a living for landless and marginal rural households. ‘This sector is not given the attention it deserves in policymaking. The animal husbandry sector accounts for approximately 27-28 percent of agricultural GDP. So, if you want to develop the sector, there should be budget allocation from the Centre or State,’ he said, citing the animal husbandry sector’s annual turnover of 11 lakh crores (USD 150 billion).
The dairy industry employs more than 80% of landless or marginal farmers. ‘And, among agriculture and other sectors, this is the fastest-growing sector, growing at more than 2.5 times the rate of agriculture. Fisheries, poultry, and dairy are all growing at more than 5% per year,’ he added.
In response to the sector’s challenges, Sodhi stated that the market is not a problem given the country’s large population. However, price volatility and low productivity are two major issues plaguing the sector. ‘We need to look at how we can reduce price volatility and keep the sector’s prices stable. When there is a surplus, the government should keep a buffer, which should be released when there is a shortage.’
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No to low-cost imports
Concerned about cheap imports of animal husbandry products, Sodhi stated, ‘This should not be allowed to jeopardize the livelihoods of the millions of people involved.’
Sodhi emphasized the importance of veterinary education in order to ensure a sufficient number of doctors in remote locations. In terms of animal nutrition, the emphasis should be on increasing nutrition-rich fodder for the animal, as opposed to the common practice of feeding leftovers from human consumption to animals.
‘The sector has the potential to improve Bharat’s livelihood and narrow the gap between urban and rural life,’ Sodhi said.