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Transforming the Animal Husbandry Sector in India

Taking a user-centred approach to a nationwide mission that aims to eliminate animal malnutrition and diseases, alleviate farmer poverty and increase production and exports.

Public Sector • Impact Sector • Animal Husbandry 


Transition Design

Design Strategy

Design Evangelisation


Becoming farmer-first

The Ministry of Animal Husbandry and Dairying set out to introduce radical changes in the sector so that farmers and livestock could benefit from an organised system of accessing government services and assistance. 

The directive from the top was clear: take a farmer-first approach rather than a top-down method to define what needs to change. That's why Design had a seat at the table alongside bureaucrats and technocrats right from the beginning.

Sector Scenario

The livestock situation in India is unique because roughly 85% animals belong to small or marginalised farmers – which means that a single farmer owns only a few animals unlike other countries where large scale animal farming is the norm.


This is one of the reasons why the sector remains fraught with inaccurate animal census, slow epidemic detection, overworked veterinary staff, and policy inertia.

Cattle and buffalo population global rank


India ranks first in cattle & buffalo population in the world.

Milk production global rank


India is the largest producer of milk (22% globally) and buffalo meat, 2nd largest producer of goat meat and 3rd largest producer of poultry. 

Share in Indian economy 


70 million farmers are involved in the sector. 10 million more people are indirectly involved.

Cattle ownership – small farmers


85% of animals belong to small or marginalised farmers.

Livestock Vet DITL.jpg
In the face of increasing policy complexity and rising citizen expectations, there is recognition that large-scale problems need new models of thinking and cooperation that enable solutions to emerge through experimenting, adapting and then expanding on what works.

My job was to help a team of powerful people think from the users' point of view so that the most worrisome problems could be discovered. Following which, the right policy reforms could be made and digital public goods could be built to bring a technological, human (+ animal) centered transformation in the sector.

First, a vision for the future needed to be communicated to the cabinet for approval. The proposal, drafted with a user-centred mindset, got approved and was launched as the National Digital Livestock Mission Blueprint in Oct. 2021. This helped secure the necessary budgets, team and resources for the road ahead.

I helped visualise and prioritise the scope of work into near-term goals that we called the Pilot programme and a more future-facing Long Horizon programme. 


Pilot Programme

An 18-month Pilot was initiated in Uttarakhand to run experiments on policy, services and observe reactions to all the changes we were proposing.

A significant feature of the programme is the Design Lab to help teams ideate and prototype new services. The Lab even has a mobile component to it, where we propose to procure and modify a vehicle to prototype services in the remotest of farms. 

Long Horizon Programme

A nationwide mission with a longer term impact to the sector. I was able to convince the Ministry to conduct user research as an important step of the process. So far, field visits and remote interviews of hundreds of farmers, vets and officers from around the country have been conducted.


This programme focusses on three main provocations:

Being Better Informed


How might we create a system that facilitates a smooth and secure exchange of information between all the parts of this sector; from animal caregivers to government policy-makers, to banks and insurance companies?

Creating user friendly digital tools for govt. officers, vets and farmers, can make information gathering and dissipation more widespread and faster, leading to better outcomes for the entire sector.

Image by Darshan Gavali
Animal Identification

Farmers are wary of getting their animals tagged due to various reasons ranging from mistrust of the government to ego and pride. How might we convince farmers to get their animals tagged?


Subsequently, how might we use the 'Pashu-aadhaar' database to conceptualise and deliver more animal-centric government services?


Ideation on topics such as Artificial Intelligence to read semen straws and muzzle scans for animal identification is currently underway.

Impetus to Commerce


How might we extend the ecosystem to encourage private sector players to invest in this sector so that eventually farmers and farm animals stand to benefit?

Once enough accurate data has been collected, creating a platform of digital instruments, APIs and apps can enable interested businesses to access data easily and build offerings with it. Misuse and exploitation in the resulting marketplace can be checked by exercising control over the platform when needed and introducing regulations that favour farmer and animal welfare.


PM Modi launches the mission

Prime Minister Modi launched the Bharat Pashudhan (NDLM) mission in March 2024.

Serving 285 million livestock, 80 million farmers and 0.4 million front-line workers

The NDLM system has wide impact in how the animal husbandry sector operates. A digital infrastructure with two end-user apps are being used, 4335 mobile veterinary vans are sanctioned and a national level customer service center is operational already. 

1.6 million transactions a day

155 million transactions YTD. The system is designed to be reliable, scalable, secure and future ready to include technologies such as IoT and AI to benefit the livestock sector.

News article about National Digital Livestock Mission in J&K
Screenshot 2023-07-09 at 4.16_edited

Acknowledgments / Press
The Prime Minister of India mentions NDLM Pashu-aadhaar while inaugurating the IDF World Dairy Summit 2022.

The Financial Express Role of IoT in the National Digital Livestock Mission 

The Hindu R.K. Singh, secretary, DAHD, Govt. of India announces that NDLM to be rolled out by April 2023.


Work continues along with the team on both these programmes as we keep discovering new challenges to overcome and innovate for.


Want to learn more? Get in touch.

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