ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Unlocking Fortune at the Bottom of India’s Gobar Pyramid

A 2014 International Labour Organization study claimed that India can create millions of rural jobs by raising the value of gobar (manure) from the present `0.15–`0.30 per kg wet weight to `1.50–`2.00 per kg. This would benefit millions of landless and marginal dairy farmers who make a meagre income from gobar. Biogas technology is the answer, but its reach in rural India is insignificant. India’s biogas programme needs to make a quantum leap through initiatives that pilot new business models for village-scale plants with the support of dairy cooperatives. It needs to maximise the energy as well as nutrient value that can be derived from gobar, overcome farmers’ loss aversion by monetising benefits and costs, and incentivise the installation of biogas plants and optimise their operating performance.


The author gratefully acknowledges extensive critical comments provided by the anonymous referee on an earlier draft of this paper.

India has been the world’s largest producer of milk since 1998. However, it has been the world’s largest producer of gobar (bovine manure) for much longer. Yet, gobar’s immense economic potential remains unexploited. Anaerobic digestion of 1 billion tonnes per year of manure produced by India’s 300 million bovines can, in principle, deliver 43.2 billion cubic metres (BCM) of biogas per year, equivalent to 86 billion kWh of electricity and 300 million metric tonnes (mmt) of slurry containing 4.8 mmt of nitrogen, 4.2 mmt of phosphorus, 3.6 mmt of potassium (Electrigaz nd; Marchaim 1992), besides abundant organic carbon and micronutrients together worth over `1,00,000 crore. Under the Chhattisgarh government’s new Godhan Nyay Scheme in 2020, farmers will be paid `1.50 per kg (net of transport cost) for gobar at their doorsteps (Mishra 2020), making India’s gobar output potentially worth `1,50,000 crore per year. Unlocking this value could directly benefit India’s poorest, who own half of the country’s bovines.

India’s Gobar Economy in Transition

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Updated On : 24th Jan, 2021
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