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Indian dairy systems facing local and global challenges

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At time when food chain sustainability emerges as a key issue worldwide, the success of the Indian dairy sector in combining a fast growing, recycling based and pro-poor development for its 70 million farmers producing milk appears as a strikingly interesting case study. This has resulted from a strong crop-livestock integration and from a very inclusive cooperative model sustained by national policies. Both are challenged today, with the reconfiguration of cropping systems and agrarian relations, the milk-oriented intensification of livestock practices, and, in some areas, the emergence of bigger dairy holdings. Furthermore, the progressive liberalisation of the dairy market since the 1990’s has supported the emergence of new private and cooperative operators.


The general objective of the project is 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, we intend 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 modernisation context?


To achieve this objective, we propose 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).


(i) Internal workshops; (ii) Reports and fact-sheets; (iii) Farm archetypes and national databases; (iv) Publications, including an atlas project; (v) A final seminar with national stakeholders and academics.

Project Images

Project Number : 1605-046

Year : 2016

Type of funding : AAP

Project type : AAP OS

Research units in the network : MOISA

Start date :
01 Jun 2017

End date :
31 Dec 2019

Flagship project :

Project leader :
Claire Aubron

Project leader's institution :

Project leader's RU :

Budget allocated :
140000 €

Total budget allocated ( including co-financing) :
140000 €

Funding :