Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Feb 11: Notwithstanding the fact that livestock and poultry sector is the backbone of the rural economy of Assam, there is not adequate number of veterinarians in the field to cater to the needs of livestock entrepreneurs.

Revealing this fact, the “Strategy Paper for Manpower and Human Resources Rationalisation” published by the State government recently said, “The National Commission on Agriculture in 1976 suggested that there should be one veterinarian per 5,000 cattle head by the year 2000. As per this recommendation the number of veterinarians required for Assam is 2,529 against the existing strength of 1003 veterinarians. This clearly indicates the additional requirement of veterinary professionals in service delivery programmes.”

Similarly, sources in the department informed that there is an urgent need to upgrade the cadre strength of veterinarians as the livestock sector is booming at a rapid rate in the State.

The 20th livestock census also said that Assam witnessed 71.63 per cent increase in poultry population from 2012 to 2019. In 2012 the total poultry population was 27.2 million and in 2019 the population increased to 46.7 million. During the said period, cattle population increased by 5.29 per cent. In 2012 the total cattle population was 10.3 million and in 2019 it went up to 10.9 million.

Similarly, the pig population increased by 28.30 per cent. According to the census report, in 2012 the pig population in Assam was 1.64 million and by 2019 the number increased to 2.10 million. As per the census, Assam has the highest pig population in comparison to other states.

But the census recorded a 9.68 per cent decrease in the population of horses and ponies during the period. In 2012 the population was 0.14 lakh and in 2019 it went down to 0.13 lakh. The census report further stated that Assam has a total of 1,80,40,283 livestock population including 33,83,679 male bovine animals, 79,56,985 female bovine animals and others.

Sources also informed that at present a large number of veterinarians of Assam are jobless or are earning their living by working with private entities. In 2019, the department conducted a recruitment drive against 109 veterinarian posts, but the number of advertised posts was very small in comparison to the number of unemployed veterinarians.

Notably, for the development of livestock and poultry sector in Assam, the “Strategy Paper for Manpower and Human Resources Rationalisation” also proposed delivery of service at farmers’ doorsteps and establishment of a veterinary institution manned by a qualified veterinarian in every 25-square-kilometre area.