Indian agriculture has traditionally been dependant on animal power. Despite the growth of mechanical power in the country in the form of tractors, power tillers and self propelled machinery, diesel engines and electric motors, draught animals continue to be a major source of farm power. The country has a draught animal population of 49.69 million among which bullocks constitute 47.48 million, buffalo 4.09 million and 1.12 million other important draught animals namely camel, equines, donkey, pony, horse and mule, yak and mithun (Indian Livestock census, 2012). Even with the growth of mechanical power sources, about 50% of net sown area continues to be cultivated by draught animals and are major means of goods transport in rural areas. Draught animals are environmental friendly. They feed on by products of crops and produce manure. There are approximately 15 million carts being used in the country. Draught animals are the major source of farm power for small and marginal farmers of the country who possess 85% of the operational holdings with about 25% of total area. Even if the population of tractors and power tillers is doubled, it is estimated that draught animals would still command about 26% of sown area which is approximately the total area belonging to small and marginal farmers.It is expected that draught animals would continue to play an important role in Indian agriculture for the next two decades, especially in the backward and remote parts of the country, where fuel availability and tractorization are likely to lag behind. Therefore, it is imperative to utilize the draught animals properly, economically and enhance their productivity. A systematic work is needed on all aspects of draught animals.
Considering the above situation, there is a continuing need for systematic studies on all aspects of draught animal power. The All India Coordinated Research Project on Utilization of Animal Energy with Enhanced System Efficiency commenced operation w.e.f. 01.07.1987 (having seven centers) with a view to study all aspects related to efficient utilization of draught animal power resulting in higher productivity and enhanced income to farmers. A systems approach considering all aspects of draught animal power such as development/adoption of matching animal drawn equipment draughtability studies, work rest cycles, studies on nutrition, housing and health care as well as utilization of by-products namely manure and urine are covered under the Project. This is an unique AICRP at the national level under the aegis of ICAR, carrying out research and development on draught animal power covering all aspects relevant to Indian conditions. Two Centers were relocated and one new Centre was added in 2000-2001. Four new Cooperating Centres started functioning during 2009-10. Three centres have been closed from 01/04/2015. In year 2017, the scheme has renamed as Harnessing Animal Energy System to Increase Profitability of Small Farms and council has agreed to open two centres namely BAU, Ranchi and AAU, Jorhat from 01.04.2018 as per SFC period (2017-18 to 2019-20) vide ICAR letter No. A.Engg./7/11/2017-IA-II(AE) dated 9 November, (2017). The project has its Coordinating cell located at CIAE, Bhopal. Presently, there are 09 Cooperating Centres functioning under the project.