Agri Business

India gears up to take the foot and mouth disease head on

TV Jayan/M Somasekhar New Delhi/Hyderabad | Updated on September 16, 2019 Published on September 16, 2019

India’s foot and mouth disease control programme requires 1,000 million doses every year   -  Jobalou

Though the govt’s target is ambitious, experts say country will be able to procure enough vaccine to fight the scourge among livestock

The Union Ministry of Animal Husbandry has put the ‘spotlight’ on tackling Foot & Mouth Disease (FMD), a major scourge of livestock, specially buffalo and cattle population, with a ₹12,652-crore allocation over the next five years.

Announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, the National Animal Disease Control Programme (NADCP) will be implemented on a ‘war footing’, with all animals getting two shots of the vaccine, ear-tagged and followed up across all States.

The challenge, however, would be to get the vaccine in adequate quantities to fast-track the programme.

According to industry estimates, India’s FMD control programme requires 1,000 million doses every year, whereas the current production is only around 500 million doses. There is an unmet need for 500 million doses.

However, a senior veterinary scientist at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) said the country would be able to have vaccines in adequate quantities.

India currently has capacity to produce 850 million doses of FMD vaccines, which is more or less sufficient to take care of the cattle and buffalo population in the country, said Raj Kumar Singh, Director of Indian Veterinary Research Institute, an ICAR laboratory, based in Izatnagar in Uttar Pradesh.

But if other livestock is also to be covered, as the control programme envisages, India may need additional shots of vaccine. Singh was hopeful that the country would be able to meet the demand as vaccine companies are gearing up to increase their production targets. In addition to nearly 400 million cattle and buffaloes, India has 135 million goats, 65 million sheep and 10 million pigs.

As per the plan, each animal would get FMD vaccination twice a year. “Unlike the earlier FMD control programmes, implemented in a phased manner, this is going to be much more comprehensive. The vaccinated animals will have RFID tags to track and also get past history and exposure to the virus,” Singh said.

Besides, the farmers do not need to pay for the vaccination as the Centre is footing the entire bill. The cost of the existing scheme was shared between the Centre and the States at 60:40. Some critics argue that despite the efforts, not much headway has been made. The demand-supply of the vaccine is also mismatched.

Vaccine scenario

As for the vaccine availability, the major producer in the country is the Hyderabad-based Indian Immunologicals Ltd, which is also the world’s largest manufacturer of FMD vaccine, with capacity to deliver 360 million doses per annum. Union Minister Giriraj Singh recently visited the company’s facilities and discussed expansion plans.

Biovet, the animal vaccine maker from Bengaluru, recently announced an investment of ₹200 crore as part of its expansion to meet the growing market demand, especially to tackle FMD and Brucellosis in animals. It has started expansion work at its manufacturing unit in Malur, Karnataka.

Krishna Ella, Promoter of Biovet, said, “Expansion of our FMD vaccine facilities to deliver 200 million doses per annum is an important step to increase our contribution to meet the shortage of this vaccine in the country.”

The company will also construct a new Brucella vaccine production facility to produce 100 million doses, another vaccine that is being covered under the NADCP, he added.

Published on September 16, 2019
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