"We are witnessing a high degree of urbanisation and have unacceptable levels of hunger and under-nutrition. We have a large number of small farmers depending on agriculture for their livelihood.''
    
"In many Asian countries, while the contribution of agriculture to GDP is coming down, the number of people employed in agriculture is still high," Kumar told reporters on Wednesday at Anand, about 35 kms from here, on the sidelines of 'Dairy Asia towards Sustainability' conference.
    
"Given these conditions, small-holder dairying has proved to be an effective instrument of intervention for increasing rural prosperity in many parts of Asia.''
    
"Therefore, the Asian model for growth has to be different from some of the other countries in the world," Kumar said.
    
The conference is jointly organised by UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), National Dairy Development Board of India (NDDB), Animal Production and Health Commission for Asia and the Pacific and Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock.
    
Small-holder producers are essentially the ones with a few buffalo or cattle, in systems closely integrated into crop production through use of crop-residues such as rice straw.
    
Increasing milk availability by another 50 million tonnes by this decade to reach the expected demand of 320 MT would leave us with many choices, Kumar said, adding that the demand may go up due to various reasons such as climate change.
    
"The production of milk in India stands at 138 MT and goes up by 6 MT every year," he said. "We believe that we have to choose a different route to enable our small and marginal farmers produce the required quantity of milk within the country and help them get their legitimate share in the economic growth," he said.

Each society and country has to choose the best route it thinks appropriate, he added. "The NDDB can offer you lessons learnt in this difficult journey of its 50 years of existence ever since its establishment in 1965, provided you decide to choose this route," Kumar said.\

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