GUWAHATI: Days after bringing a bill to protect cows, the Assam government now decided to buy sperm from outside the state for artificial insemination of the animal.
The government believes the step will help increase the numbers of better breeds of cows and control the male population.
“The state proposes to introduce the use of sex-sorted semen for the benefit of dairy farmers. There will be an increase in the number of high genetic female calves born in cattle and buffalo farms with the use of sex-sorted semen. It will control the birth of scrub bulls as 80-90% of all births would be of female calves,” the state’s Finance Minister Ajanta Neog said in the Assembly reading out the state budget on Friday.
She said female births would help in meeting the ever-increasing demand for milk.
This year, the government proposed to cover 50,000 cattle and buffaloes with the use of 1.25 lakh doses of high genetic merit sex-sorted frozen semen.
“With a 30% conception rate, at least 12,000 female calves are expected to be born as a result of implementation during the first year. The scheme may continue by inseminating 50,000 animals annually for the next four years. Farmers’ livelihood and milk production will get a massive boost leading to a positive impact on the economy,” the minister further said.
The minority-based All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) was quick to criticise the government for the decision on artificial insemination for female calves. The party said the money could have been spent in the fight against the pandemic.
“We don’t understand why the government is giving priority to cows. Thousands died due to Covid. People are suffering. What was the need for it?” asked AIUDF legislator Aminul Islam.
He continued in the same vein: “What is the benefit of the public if a male or a female calf is born?”
Islam said according to the Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021, which was tabled in the Assembly recently, only bulls, aged above 14 years, can be slaughtered but with due permission from the authority concerned.
“If the slaughter of cattle is banned in the state, Muslims and Christians, who eat beef, will not die. There are alternatives like chicken, mutton, fish, and vegetables. The non-beef-eating communities are living on these,” the MLA added.
The smuggling of cattle thrives in Assam. A few days ago, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had asked the police to make sure there is no case involving cows.
Meanwhile, to minimize the learning loss and bridge the digital divide, the government has decided to provide mobile phones to the students of classes IX and X.
The government said this would act as a positive reinforcement for continuity of education and a deterrent against the dropout rate in schools. The scheme will benefit nearly eight lakh students.