Exploring the Insect World and Agriculture: A Closer Look at Biodiversity and Livelihoods

Exploring the Insect World and Agriculture: A Closer Look at Biodiversity and Livelihoods

Mr. Vinod Borse
May 04, 2024
Mr. Vinod Borse
Apr 04, 2024

The word insect derived from the Latin word ‘insectum’, meaning “cut into sections,” plays a crucial role in our ecosystem, particularly in agriculture and forest ecosystems. Insects have permeated human culture since ancient times, evident from depictions of honey bees in caves, Egyptian hieroglyphs and references of beetles and lac insects in the Mahabharata. These tiny creatures play multiple roles, serving as pollinators, predators and as a source of livelihood. Bees, in particular, stand out for their role in pollination and honey production. Traditional honey harvesting methods which are destructive, are being replaced by scientific approaches, ensuring sustainable practices that benefit both bees and beekeepers.

There are many saints in India of which almost all preach that every life on earth is precious and needs to be conserved and lived with. Saint Tukaram Maharaj, a saint had said “Wruksh walli amha soyari,” meaning the importance of co-existence of flora and fauna with human interventions and more diverse the nature, more healthier is the environment. Intensification of flora or crops leads to decrease in diversity. Decrease in diversity leads to loss of a healthy environment.

BAIF documented 700 plus species of lepidoptera insect species from different parts of the country and mostly from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Odisha states i.e. a few areas of Western Ghats and a few areas of Eastern Ghats. A few species were reported 100 years ago.  56 lepidopteran species associated with Alstonia scholaris were documented.

Insect documentation during the British era in India included most of the insect species and the first entomologist post was started in India.  Many volumes are available for reference studies.  In the year 1758, Carl Linnaeus published “Systema Nature”, J.C Fabricus classified the insect into 13 orders,   J.G. Koenig published a special account of termites of Thanjavur district, Dr. Kerr published an account of lac insect and lac insect genus named kerria lacca on his name.

These insects are extremely useful in creating a healthier environment. They are many types of pollinators, predators and parasites. Insect is useful for livelihood and they provide various services with pollination and natural control of insect being their most known services.

The first insect which comes in one’s mind is butterfly.  Second, bees. Bees are mostly honey producing and non-honey producing, social and Eusocial wasps. Apis dorsata, Apis cerana indica, Apis florea are commonly seen in the field. Stingless bees are also one of the honey producing bees two species of which are reported from India. Stingless bees are mostly small bees which visit diversified flowers at a single time. They collect nectar and pollen.  In a few parts, such bees are reared by farmers. They are mostly found in crevices of old houses and trees. Agricultural crops like brinjal and cilli cucumber are different gourds pollinated by Apis dorsata, Apis cerana indica, Apis florea,Tetragonula iridipennis, Xylocopa sp., Xyalocopa amethystina, Amegilla sp. Nomia westwoodi etc. Our study shows that Apis cerana indica visits more diverse crops and plants. Xyalocpa Sp. are also important in agriculture.

Apis dorsata – Commonly known as rock bee, this species is aggressive in nature having sting and attacks more serious than other bees.  A few people are traditional honey harvesters and in many areas, they use smoke in the night and cut whole honey hives which is a very unsafe practice. 

BAIF is teaching such honey bee practitioners a scientific honey harvesting method, as the hive contains a special structure where the honey is kept and can be harvested without damaging the entire colony. This practice will increase the colonies and population of Apis dorsata. As in scientifically honey harvesting practice, the hive is kept intact in the same position and only the stored honey is harvested and in due course of time, it is again filled by bees. The eggs and broods are safe in the colony.

Endemic plant species, such as Smithia purpurea and Senecio bombayensis, form crucial habitats for insects, highlighting the importance of conserving these unique ecosystems. However, modern agricultural practices, including use of herbicide cause loss of these endemic species. The intricate relationship between insects and farming communities underscores the need for sustainable agricultural practices which promote biodiversity.

Soil moisture is the most important parameter for increasing floral diversity and decrease in moisture results in loss of floral diversity. Soil moisture conservation is the most important criteria for a healthier environment. Under ecological restoration activities, soil moisture retention is the major task performed by BAIF.

However, modern agricultural practices marked by intensive pesticide use are more harmful to nature for insect populations. BAIF is working on holistic approaches that harness natural pest control mechanisms and enhance pollination services. Crop combination and natural control of pest insect enhance pollination services.

Sericulture, lac cultivation, honey bee keeping are examples of how insects contribute to livelihood and environmental sustainability. Sericulture is a homestead activity in many parts of the country but lac cultivation is possible only in some parts of the country such as subtropical regions with availability of host plants like Schleichera oleosa, Ziziphus mauritiana and Butea monosperma which result in successful lac cultivation. Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar are the major lac producing states. The intricate ecosystems of lac cultivation with predators and parasites coexisting, underscore the delicate balance of nature.

In Central India, farmers from Vidarbha region are involved in lac cultivation on Butea monosperma (ber), and Schleichera oleosa (kusum). Female lac insect has a greater role in lac cultivation than the male lac insect.  Lac cultivation is also a micro ecosystem with predator and parasite insects.  These predators also have some other parasites such as Bracon greeni Pristomerus sulci and Apanteles sp. etc found in lac cultivation.

While tussar silk, muga silk and other types of silk are generally produced in the Southern part of India and Northeast, in Maharashtra. Tussar silk production is in an open environment and sericulture, the Gynandromorph is also found in tussar silk. Lepidopterous insect voraciously feeds on the host plants and casts cocoons which are used in silk production. Xanthopimpla punctata is the parasite for tasar silk. She lays eggs over larva which are mature enough.  These mature larvae make cocoons and safely comes inside the developed cocoons and starts to grow inside the cocoons, feeds on the pupa inside and the adult Xanthopimpla sp. comes out of tussar silk cocoon.  This Xanthopimpla sp. is the most important parasite in agriculture which controls many lepidopterous insects from the cucurbits field. by parasitising the larvae. BAIF documented gynandromorph from Tasar moths.

Farmers are adopting innovative practices like creating flower strips along bunds, hedge rows of long-term nectar source crops and a few plants like Moringa oleifera, Citrus sp., Bergera koenigii, Pongamia pinnata, shrubs such as Celosia argentea and other nectar producing and attractive coloured flowers to attract pollinators and beneficial insects and birds.  These pollinators stay for a longer duration in the field as they also require food, water and shelter. Farmers are keeping soil moisture, dry wooden logs for buildings or constructing nests inside dry woods. Diversified cropping patterns not only enhance pollination but also a healthier agro-ecosystem.

Many solitary bees and wasps make houses in dry wooden cavities, collecting pollen and nectar to feed their young ones or larvae. These insects are pollinating different crops in the agriculture field. They are sowing crops in a 100–200-meter area for food production. Many species are making nest in the dry wood. Bee hotels can also be used by farmers to attract solitary bees and wasps to make nests in the agriculture field.

Diversified cropping pattern adaptation leads to a healthier environment and as a source of nutritive food. While maintaining the diverse cropping pattern, a few patches of strips of colourful flowers like yellow, orange and violet blue are used. These flowers attract most of the pollinators with nectar, Crotalaria juncea and other Crotalaria sp.  also attracts more pollinators in the field by providing nectar and pollen, for maintaining the pollinators in the agriculture filed for longer duration.  Such crops are useful while these have their own benefits rather than pollinators support. Based on traditional knowledge, farmers were earlier maintaining a diverse cropping pattern in which  multiple crops were cultivated as perennial crops or long duration crops such as oil seed crops like Linum usitatissimum (Flax seed), Foeniculum sp.(Fennel seed), Cuminum Sp. (cumin seeds), Carthamus tinctorius L (Safflower), Brassica sp. (Mustard), Seasamum indicumL., Cajanus cajan, etc. These are the most useful floral diversity combinations.  With different crops, this flora attracts the pollinator as well as predators. This flora produces nectar and pollen grains, for longer duration and many of these diverse crops have medicinal properties. Pollinators are important in agriculture as the pollinators mediate pollination, increase the quantity as well as quality of food as revealed by many studies.

BAIF developed butterfly gardens initiatives to serve as educational hubs, with focus on awareness about the vital role insects play in our ecosystem. Knowledge sharing with the new generation results in multiple host plants planted in such a way that the butterflies can be attracted towards it for laying eggs over larval host plant and nectar host plants. The butterfly population lay eggs and start the life cycle in the garden, egg-larva, pupa, and adult. These butterfly gardens are playing a major role in educating and enhancing the awareness of children and the community.

As indicators of environmental quality, insects offer valuable insights into the state of our ecosystems, water availability and soil moisture as they are mostly dependent on the floral diversity. Some insects are host specific, monophagous, some are polyphagous and a few flora are grown only in particular places and particular temperature and humidity. Hence, the insect is also growing over flora and having a bearing on the quality of environment.

 In some regions, insects even find their way onto our plates, with tribal communities incorporating them into their diets. This practice highlights the symbiotic relationship between humans and insects . Edible insects exist in a few areas in India where people use insects as food – ants’ eggs, wasp nests and broods of honey bees.

Mr. Vinod Borse (Entomologist)

Senior project officer
BAIF livelihoods, Maharashtra

LinkedIn Profile

BAIF celebrates 104th birth anniversary of Dr. Manibhai Desai

BAIF celebrates 104th birth anniversary of Dr. Manibhai Desai

Dr. Manibhai Desai, a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi and a messiah of the rural poor, walked tall in the development world. His charismatic and legendary leadership in rural development brought BAIF on the international map with global organisations eager to support the innovative programmes of BAIF in dairy development, afforestation, water resources development, tribal development, community health and empowerment of women. On the domestic front too, this crusader of the rural poor received invitations from various states to promote BAIF’s models of rural development in their states and improve the livelihood status of rural communities in those states. Today, BAIF is implementing programmes in 15 states of India and has reached out to more than 4.0 million families from 100,000 villages.

On the occasion of his 104th birth anniversary today, the BAIF team expresses their tribute to their Founder who inspired countless youth to engage in rural development and pledges to continue his mission of ensuring rural prosperity through various livelihood and climate action-oriented programmes for achieving carbon offsetting and neutrality.

Let’s Green Up to Cool Down this Earth Day!

Let’s Green Up to Cool Down this Earth Day!

Let’s Green Up to Cool Down this Earth Day!

BAIF pledges to continue its efforts to green Mother Earth through enteric methane emissions reduction, soil health management, land degradation neutrality, grassland management, promotion of renewable energy, carbon sequestration through agro-horti-forestry and adoption of nature-based practices in agriculture.

Acceleration of voluntary action for achieving net-zero emissions is the goal of BAIF and also that of every responsible organisation!

Remember! We have already crossed the safe planetary boundaries. So let’s bring back Humanity within the safe operating space of planetary boundaries by greening Mother Earth!

eDost – A Social Entrepreneur and Empowerment Model

eDost – A Social Entrepreneur and Empowerment Model

Ms. Pooja Majgankar
Mar 14, 2024
Ms. Pooja Majgankar
Mar 14, 2024

eDost, a women-centric programme initiated to address the existing digital divide and empower women in rural areas, holds great promise in bridging the gap between urban and rural communities in terms of internet accessibility and digital services. The initiative aligns with the broader Digital India Initiative, ensuring that the benefits of technology and the internet reach even the remotest villages.

 

The dual objectives of the programme – bringing digital services to the doorsteps of villagers and empowering women by providing livelihood opportunities – contribute significantly to inclusive development. By focusing on women, eDost recognizes the importance of gender inclusivity in the age of DigitAll, acknowledging the crucial role of women in the socio-economic development of communities.

 

Door-to-door delivery of digital services recognizes the need to make these services easily accessible, especially in areas where traditional infrastructure may be lacking. Through eDost, women can become active participants in the digital economy, contributing not only to their personal development but also to the overall growth of their communities.

 

Moreover, integrating aspects of skill development and entrepreneurship within the programme can enhance its impact. By equipping women with digital skills, eDost can pave the way for them to explore various opportunities such as online entrepreneurship, remote work, and participation in e-commerce platforms.

 

eDost has the potential to become a transformative initiative that not only addresses the digital divide but also empowers women in rural India. By fostering inclusivity and providing the necessary tools and education, this programme can contribute significantly to the vision of a digitally empowered and gender-inclusive society.

 

The journey of eDost in Pathardi village showcases a remarkable transformation in overcoming challenges and bringing digital services to a community previously deprived of mobile networks and internet access. The success story highlights the positive impact of the programme, especially in empowering women and creating a trusted network for financial services.

 

The observation that predominantly, it was the men in the village who owned hi-tech phones and women were unfamiliar with smartphones and the internet emphasized the need for targeted interventions. By identifying a semi-literate woman, preferably a daughter-in-law from the village and equipping her with a smartphone, eDost adopted an inclusive and strategic approach. This decision not only addressed the gender gap but also leveraged the potential of a local community member to act as a bridge between technology and the villagers.

 

The first and foremost step was to impart training to the selected eDost on the use of a mobile and how to conduct financial transactions through a fintech mobile application. This reflected the importance of digital literacy in enabling individuals to harness the benefits of technology. The initial challenge of gaining the confidence of the villagers in accepting digital financial services was expected, but the perseverance of the eDost and the gradual development of trust among the villagers demonstrated the effectiveness of the programme.

 

The paradigm shift whereby villagers proactively approach the eDost for financial services instead of traveling to nearby towns, not only saved time and resources but also indicated a growing reliance on digital services facilitated by the eDost. The programme has become a trusted source for financial transactions, demonstrating the potential for further expansion of services and influencing a larger number of people while responding to the demands of the villagers. The inclusion of essential services such as DTH recharge, bill payments and various e-governance services highlights the efficacy of the programme in transforming into am as an adaptable and comprehensive solution for the villagers.

 

With the inclusion of essential services such as PAN Card, Aadhaar Card, Train and Bus reservations, eShram card, Soil Card, Vaccination Certificates, Voter ID, Land record and Driving License, eDost has become a one-stop solution for various digital needs while reducing the need for villagers to travel to urban centres to avail these services.

 

The sustainability of the programme is ensured by a nominal service charge being levied for the services provided by the eDost which creates a source of sustainable livelihood as well as ensures value for the service being provided. This economic aspect is crucial for the viability and success of such an initiative.

 

The geographical expansion of the eDost programme into various parts of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Odisha indicates its positive reception and scalability. The presence of over 100 eDosts actively providing digital services at the doorsteps of villagers signifies the potential for replication in other areas and tailored to suit the specific needs of diverse regions.

The eDost programme serve as a model by showcasing the transformative potential of grassroots-level initiatives in bringing about positive change through technology and digital empowerment. The role of eDost cadre as local digital service providers is evidently impactful, extending beyond the provision of digital services. Their contribution to the financial independence of women, support for education and overall positive influence on family dynamics underscores the broader societal benefits of the programme in the following ways:

 

1. Financial Independence and Empowerment: The eDost cadre is not only providing essential digital services but also creating economic opportunities for themselves. This financial independence is crucial for women empowerment and gender equality. By actively participating in the digital economy, these women are breaking traditional gender roles and contributing meaningfully to their households.

 

2. Education and Skill Transfer: The fact that these women are contributing to the education of their children highlights a positive cycle of empowerment as education is a key driver for social and economic progress. Their role in educating other women in the village in financial and digital literacy indicates the impact of the programme in creating a multiplier effect by spreading knowledge and skills within the community.

 

3. Community Building and Trust: The eDost cadre, by residing within the community, establishes a foundation of trust essential for the success and sustainability of digital initiatives. As these women gain the trust of the villagers through consistent and reliable services, it fosters a sense of community and shared responsibility.

 

4. Opportunities for eCommerce and Insurance Companies: The presence of the eDost cadre in remote villages creates an infrastructure that eCommerce and insurance companies can leverage. These local agents can act as intermediaries, facilitating transactions and bridging the gap between digital platforms and rural customers. eCommerce companies can use these local agents to establish last-mile connectivity, ensuring the delivery of goods and services to the most remote areas. Insurance companies can tap this network to cover rural populations and make insurance products more accessible and tailored to local needs.

 

In conclusion, the eDost cadre plays a pivotal role in transforming rural communities by not only providing digital services but also contributing to the socio-economic fabric of the villages while contributing to a more inclusive and digitally connected Rural India.

Ms. Pooja Majgankar

 Programme Manager
BAIF Development Research Foundation, Pune

LinkedIn Profile

Pilot Park to promote Cactus as the Green Gold crop of India established in Pune

Pilot Park to promote Cactus as the Green Gold crop of India established in Pune

On March 11, 2024, Shri. Giriraj Singh, Hon. Union Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Government of India, inaugurated the first of its kind “Pilot Cactus Park”, at BAIF’s Central Research Station at Urulikanchan near Pune. On the same day, Shri. Manoj Joshi, IAS, Secretary, Department of Land Resources, Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India, inaugurated the Cactus-based vegan leather plant on this occasion. Shri. Sunil Chavan, IAS, Secretary, Soil and Water Conservation Department, Government of Maharashtra and Dr. Bharat Kakade, President of BAIF were also present on this occasion. A joint venture of BAIF and Five F Agroecology LLP was conceived and which has led to the establishment of this pilot plant.

During his online inauguration of the first batch of vegan leather based on the objective to promote cactus-based products for Fashion, Food, Fuel, Fertilizer and Fodder (Five F) from spineless cactus at this pilot production plant and interaction with the project partners, the Minister, emphasized that cactus is the future crop of the country and expressed hope that with the extensive network of BAIF, cactus will be established as a economically viable green gold plant and will spread to various clusters in the country. Dr. Bharat Kakade, President and Managing Trustee, BAIF, briefed the Minister and attendees about various cactus initiatives of BAIF and applications in addition to vegan leather, viz. as Fodder for animals in dryland areas, Fuel production through Biogas fed by cactus, Liquid Organic Fertilizer and Food industry applications such as cactus juice, products being developed out of cactus and plans of BAIF for promotion of cactus for the benefit of the communities in different parts of the country. Shri. Ravi Madan, Five F Agroecology LLP, Mumbai and Shri. Mahesh Maheshwari from Miracle AgriGreen Solutions, Ahmedabad, expressed their confidence about the benefit to farmers from this energy-efficient cactus crop.

During his interaction with BAIF Scientists and Technical team, while acknowledging the pioneering work of BAIF in cactus promotion, Shri. Manoj Joshi also advised the joint venture team to ensure the economic viability of the project as well as minimum returns to farmers through cactus cultivation. He expressed the need for a buy-back arrangement of the cactus cultivated by the farmers through the project. He also advised working out the economics, formation of a committee and planning for the second round of the pilot project outside Maharashtra and the need to define the number of locations/clusters and area to be covered. He suggested starting with 7-10 clusters and then expanding it to 20-25 clusters in the country, which will not only instil confidence in the farmers but also keep the focus on cactus and enlist the support from the Government of India for the vegan leather project and for taking it from lab to land.

Shri. Sunil Chavan, Secretary, Soil and Water Conservation Department, Government of Maharashtra expressed the commitment of his Department to support the cactus cultivation initiative in Maharashtra.

Dr. Vitthal Kauthale, Chief Thematic Programme Executive, Farm Research and Seed Programme, BAIF and In-charge of cactus research at BAIF, stated that there was no adverse effect on animals with their body weight being maintained and that it has become an ideal green fodder for harsh climate without any waste and with carbon sequestration potential. BAIF has been conducting adaptability and performance trial of spineless cactus accessions for fodder production since 2015 and has established an arboretum of 100 accessions of cactus. BAIF has also standardised propagation and production technology and established a protocol for feeding cactus to small and large ruminants and for technology transfer to farmers’ field by establishing over 800 demonstrations in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka apart from decentralised cactus nurseries on over 3.20 ha at various campuses. BAIF has undertaken collaborative research with ICARDA, ICAR-IGFRI, CLRI, NIIST and Five F.

The senior BAIF members present on this occasion included Dr, Ashok Pande, Dr. Jayant Khadse, Mr Pramod Takwale and Dr. S.S. Roy. Shri. Dashrath Tambale, Director, ATMA, Pune, Shri. Ravindra Bhosale, CEO, Soil and Water Conservation Commissionerate, Maharashtra, Ms. Sujata Hande, District Water Conservation Officer and Shri. Subhash Lonkar, Sarpanch, Gram Panchayat, Tilekarwadi, Urulikanchan were also present on this occasion.

Gir Cow – The Heart of Gujarat:  Conservation Efforts of BAIF

Gir Cow – The Heart of Gujarat: Conservation Efforts of BAIF

Ms. Tejashree Shirsath-Kalbhor
Feb 22, 2024
Ms. Tejashree Shirsath-Kalbhor
Feb 22, 2024

Amidst the scenic Gir forest dotting Saurashtra region of Gujarat, India, lies a treasure — the Gir cow. This local breed known for its unique qualities, plays a significant role in the farming system of this region. Join us as we dive into the world of the Gir cow, exploring its distinct features, historical significance and its role in sustaining livelihoods.

Intoduction:

The Gir cow hails from the Gir hills and the forested areas of Kathiawar and hence the name. Saurashtra region includes Junagadh, Bhavnagar, Rajkot and Amreli districts. The Gir cow is also known as Bhodali, Desan, Gujarati, Kathiawari, Sorthi and Surti across different sections of its breeding habitat.

Origin and Heritage:

The Gir cow, scientifically known as Bos indicus, finds its roots in the Gir forest of Gujarat. This historic breed has been a companion to farmers for centuries, playing a crucial role in the agricultural landscape of the region. Its adaptation to the hot and humid climate, marked by a distinct hump and pendulous ears, reflects the flexibility that has been improved over generations… Its presence in the agricultural practices of the region dates back to several centuries. The breed has played an essential role in sustaining communities, providing not only nourishment but also contributing to the economy through dairy.

Gir Communities:

Behind this iconic breed lies the dedicated communities of livestock keepers who have safeguarded the legacy of this breed for generations and which also reveals the rich cultural traditions and the importance of preserving and promoting sustainable practices for the well-being of the communities and the cherished Gir breed. These communities are Maldhari, Bhrawad (Gaderia), Rabari, Ahir, Jaat, Barda Dungar, Sumara, Sama – Muslim, Charan and Kathiawadi who have discovered their integrated connection with the valued Gir cow.

Breeding Practices:

Gir breeding practices are steeped in tradition, with focus on maintaining the purity of the breed. Gir breeders wisely select parent cows and bulls, considering their family and physical traits. This careful matchmaking ensures that the distinctive features of the Gir cow are passed on through generations.

Management practices:

The Gir cow, a symbol of India’s rich agricultural heritage, demands careful attention and thoughtful management to thrive in various environments. As keepers of this royal breed, farmers and caretakers play an essential role in ensuring the comfort and efficiency of Gir cows. In this note, we will explore key management practices that contribute to the health, comfort, and overall achievements of Gir cows. Management practises involve Quality Nutrition, comfortable Housing, Healthcare and Record keeping.

Gir Morphometric characteristics:

This indigenous breed has distinctive morphometric characteristics that contribute to its uniqueness including the features of the head, characteristics of the eyes, hump size, skin coat colour, skin types, body size, udder attributes, teat placement, horn characteristics, tail features and type of hump.

Milk Production:

A true leader in the dairy world, the Gir cow is famous for its high milk yield. The milk, rich in butterfat, forms the foundation for the production of ghee and other dairy products. This quality has elevated the breed to a major player in the dairy industry. Renowned for its adaptability, the Gir cow sparkles in tropical climates. Its ability to withstand heat stress and resist diseases makes it a valuable asset for farmers facing environmental challenges. Milk yield per lactation is a critical parameter in assessing the productivity of Gir cows. The average yield of 2110 kg reflects a moderate to high production capacity. The range from 800 to 3300 kg underscores the variability in individual cow performance, emphasizing the need for tailored nutrition and management practices to optimize milk production. Milk fat percentage is an important element of the quality of dairy products. The average fat content of 4.6% positions Gir cow milk favourably for the production of high-quality dairy products. The range from 3.9% to 5.1% indicates a steady and appealing fat, contributing to the nutritional value and market appeal of Gir cow milk.

Conservation Efforts of BAIF:

Recognizing the importance of preserving this genetic treasure, BAIF has made significant efforts to conserve and promote the Gir breed through Indigenous Breed Improvement Programme (IBIP) and Enhanced Genetics Project (EGP). Conservation initiatives aim to maintain the purity of the breed, ensuring its continued existence for future generations. On-going conservation efforts ensure that future generations can benefit from the invaluable genetic traits of the Gir breed, securing its place in the agricultural heritage of India.

 

In the agricultural scenario of the country, the Gir cow stands as a testament to the cooperative connection amongst humans and livestock. Its adaptive nature, rich history and immense contribution to dairy farming make it a breed worth cherishing. As we navigate the challenges of modern agriculture, the Gir cow serves as a reminder to the need to preserve our agricultural heritage and embrace sustainable practices for the future. The Gir breed has gained popularity not only in India but also in other parts of the world due to its desirable characteristics. It is important in the context of livestock diversity and contributes significantly to the agricultural economy, particularly in dairy farming.

The journey does not end here. There is a need to continue efforts in collecting various insights into Gir cow and thereby contributing to conservation initiatives for Gir breed for livestock management.

 

Stay tuned with us for more updates…

Ms. Tejashree Shirsath-Kalbhor

Senior Information Technology Officer
Animal Genetics & Breeding Department
BAIF Development Research Foundation
Central Research Station, Uruli kanchan, Pune

LinkedIn Profile

BAIF Pune celebrates 75th Republic Day

BAIF Pune celebrates 75th Republic Day

Unbridled Patriotism, Pride and Passion marked the 75th celebration of India’s Republic Day at BAIF Head Office in Pune.

The ceremonial guard of honour was followed by the pride of our motherland – the tricolour being unfurled by Dr. Bharat Kakade, President and Managing Trustee, BAIF, in the presence of the BAIF team, security and administrative personnel and the future generation of the country – children.

Veteran BAIF member, Dr. Avinash Deo led the team by bringing to attention the need for water conservation which was reiterated by Dr. Kakade by highlighting the need to also focus on soil health management while implementing our livelihood programmes across the country. Mr. Shrinivas Kulkarni expressed the need for continued excellence, innovation and commitment towards our work. Dr. Alok Juneja felt that with its good presence in 14 states and recent entry into Goa, BAIF can easily aspire for spreading its good work all over the country. Others who spoke on the occasion included Mr. Sujit Gijare, Ms. Pritam Chandak and Ms. Sucharita Dhar.

Remembering with reverence, the Father of the Indian Constitution – Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and other members of the Draft Constitution Committee which had led to the enactment of the Indian Constitution 75 years ago, the Father of the Nation – Mahatma Gandhi and other national leaders who had paved the way for India to be declared as a Sovereign, Democratic Republic in 1950 and confidence in the progress of BAIF in the wake of Amrit Kal of the nation were the essence of the celebration.

The 75th Republic Day was also celebrated with feverish excitement in all the operational areas of BAIF across 14 states including the Karmabhoomi of the Founder – Dr. Manibhai Desai at BAIF Central Research Station, Urulikanchan near Pune.

Evolution of Livestock Data Capture: BAIF’s Journey with Data Logger Devices

Evolution of Livestock Data Capture: BAIF’s Journey with Data Logger Devices

Mr. Yuvraj Gaundare
Jan 16, 2024
Mr. Yuvraj Gaundare
Jan 16, 2024

Introduction:

BAIF is committed to improving the lives of the underprivileged across 14 states in India. To ensure efficient outreach of services to the farmers, a strong monitoring plan, efficient data collection systems, and advanced data analysis tools are necessary for ensuring accurate recording of field data with focus on precision.

 

Realising the need to improve its data collection and analysis systems, BAIF began its transition from traditional book-keeping system to modern electronic databases and introduced Data Logger devices in its field operations in the year 2005.

First Model: Tackling the Initial Hurdles

The initial model developed with the technical support of MDL Solution Ltd, aimed to capture reproduction data in selected Cattle Development Centres of Maharashtra. However, the following challenges were observed:

  1. Bulky Device
  2. Limited scope of operation
  3. Code-based entry and display
  4. Not user-friendly
  5. Short battery backup
  6. Difficulty in handling

Second Model: Progress in Efficiency

Building on the lessons learned, the second model had the following benefits:

  1. Smaller in size, the device was made more compact and portable.
  2. In-built Battery
  3. Increased Data Handling Capacity

However, challenges like display issues and limited data storage persisted.

 Third Model (PALM Mobile): Embracing Mobility

BAIF attempted to capture livestock reproduction data using a smartphone Palm Treo 680 model in its satellite form.

Features:

  • Data Download Facility: Streamlined data transfer processes.
  • Convenient Handling: A more user-friendly and portable device.
  • Flexibility: Improved flexibility compared to previous models.

Challenges:

  • Frequent power adapter failure
  • High cost of replacement after warranty expiry

Switching Over to Windows Phones: Embracing Progress

The experience gained from PALM mobile and subsequent unavailability of devices and service backup of PALM mobile as well as easy accessibility with affordable price of Windows smart phones led to the switchover to Windows-based software for capturing the data.

Fourth Model: Windows Phones

Windows phones First Generation was developed to examine Windows-based software – a suitable device with affordable price, HTC model P-3452 with Microsoft windows and mobile operating system 6.1/6.5 was selected during the initial project period. This model was able to ensure systematic data recording without any need to validate the data once it is warehoused in servers. The software used an architecture in which all the scenarios and processes were simulated to an object model. This model used to replicate the real-life scenario thereby ensuring that the data entered was pre-revalidated.

 

On the other hand, it gave intelligent responses and pre-emptive appointments and responses for possible scenarios. The system behaved like an interactive assistant at various levels like Centre In-charge, Area office, State office and Central office. As the technology became more advanced in the field of mobile computing, windows mobile 6.1/6.5 operating system was phased out by Microsoft being replaced with windows phone 7.1/7.8/8.0/8.1 Hence, the next generation of software application was developed with data, feature and functional continuity with previous generation software (Windows mobile 6.1/6.5).

First Generation:

Device: HTC model P-3452 with Microsoft Windows Mobile OS 6.1/6.5.

Validation and Intelligence: Systematic data recording with pre-validation and intelligent responses.

Second Generation:

Technological Advancement: Evolving with Windows Phone 7.1/7.8/8.0/8.1.

Continuity: Maintained data, feature and functional continuity from the previous generation.

Switching over to Android Phones

Following the phase-out of Windows phones after 2016-17, BAIF recognized the need to adapt and transition to Android smartphones. This shift marked a strategic move towards modernization, enabling a more streamlined and efficient approach towards livestock reproduction data collection. Acceptance of the online-offline model, BAIF introduced the “Godhan Seva” Android App specifically designed for Artificial Insemination Technicians (AITs). This innovative app, powered by TCS-DFI® (Tata Consultancy Services – Digital Farming Initiative), not only facilitated seamless data collection but also empowered AITs with a user-friendly platform.  The application also had a multi-language support. The transition to Android smartphones and the integration of the “Godhan Seva” app exemplify BAIF’s commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements for enhanced livestock management. More than 1200+ BAIF Artificial Insemination (AI) Technicians are using this application in the field and around 40+ lakh Artificial Insemination data is available since the past 6-7 years in digital form. Various research publications and articles have been published based on data collected through such modern technology in national and international journals.

Systematic representation of the current livestock data collection system

The systematic representation of the current livestock data collection at BAIF involves incorporation of additional add-on modules on body measurement, performance recording, disease and vaccination thereby reflecting a refined and comprehensive approach towards data management. This signifies a strategic enhancement in our data collection system, designed to capture a more detailed picture of livestock-related information. These add-on modules serve as supplementary components, addressing specific aspects of livestock data that may require specialized attention.

Dashboards and Reports for data visualization and monitoring

Various dashboards and reports have been precisely developed to facilitate effective data monitoring and downloading by the supervisory staff. These tools serve as integral components of our streamlined approach, providing real-time insights and comprehensive overviews of the collected data. The dashboards offer a visual representation of key metrics, enabling rapid and informed decision-making.

Future scope: A platform independent software solutions

 Currently, our focus is on developing a platform-independent software solution to ensure the adaptability of livestock data collection software solution across various devices. This strategic initiative is geared to enable deployment on a wide range of platforms, including Android phones and tablets, iOS devices, Windows phones and tablets, PCs, and desktop computers. By creating a software solution compatible with diverse operating systems and devices, we are striving to enhance accessibility and flexibility, allowing AITs to seamlessly utilize our application on their preferred devices. This approach reflects our commitment to provide a user-friendly and universally accessible tool for livestock reproduction data management across diverse technological ecosystems.

Conclusion

 In our relentless pursuit of efficiency and accuracy, BAIF’s experience with data logger equipment is a testament to our commitment to innovation in livestock reproduction data management. The evolving technology landscape serves as a catalyst for our continued dedication to inventing and implementing superior solutions. As we navigate the dynamic currents of technological advancement, our resolve to remain at the forefront of progress remains unwavering.  However, the journey does not end here.  We have to continue our efforts to adapt our methods to new possibilities and contribute to the ongoing transformation in livestock management. So stay tuned with us…

Mr. Yuvraj Gaundare

Thematic Program Executive
BAIF Development Research Foundation
Central Research Station, Uruli kanchan, Pune

LinkedIn Profile

Circular Bioeconomy Innovation Hub launched in India

Circular Bioeconomy Innovation Hub launched in India

The five-nation One CGIAR Initiative – Nature+: Nature Positive Solutions in India inched ahead with the launch of the Circular Bioeconomy Innovation Hub (CBE-IH) as a virtual platform during the National level ‘’Pause and Reflect’’ meeting hosted by the ICAR-National Institute of Abiotic Stress Management at Malegaon, Baramati, Pune district of Maharashtra from December 14 to 15, 2023 in the presence of Leads, Co-Leads and Scientists from CGIAR centers – IWMI, Alliance Bioversity–CIAT and IFPRI, implementing partner organizations from India viz BAIF, NIASM, Baramati, MPKV Rahuri and NBPGR and start ups, businesses, educational and research organisations working on circularity. The Innovation Hub will be hosted by BAIF.

The One CGIAR Initiative aims to re-imagine, co-create and implement nature-positive solutions-based agri-food systems that equitably support food and livelihoods while ensuring that agriculture is a net positive contributor to biodiversity and nature with its five intertwined pillars – Conserve, Manage, Restore, Recycle and Engage.

Dr. Bharat Kakade, President and Managing Trustee, BAIF in his opening remarks highlighted the historical partnership of BAIF with ICAR and CGIAR centers and the close association with MPKV, Rahuri and NBPGR. While appreciating the circularity brought into the agricultural–food system which would help in achieving the goal of Nature-Positive, Sustainable, Green and Climate-smart economy, he pointed out that BAIF has already been focusing on nature-positive solutions while working on natural resources management projects.

He shared the collaboration between BAIF and INRAE, France for implementing the Living Lab initiative in India to achieve Agroecology-based, nutrition sensitive and resilient food systems by adopting a systems approach while understanding and factoring in various externalities like climate change, changing aspirations, demography, digitalization, rural–urban connect and shifts in policies and programme in India and at the global level.

He highlighted the role of livestock along with crops in Indian farming system and the need for an integrated farming system model, focusing on various resources and context-specific and inclusive actions. A circularity approach would certainly help achieve several goals of greening the economy, reducing emissions and carbon foot prints, creating jobs in rural areas, reducing waste in various forms and achieving resource recovery and efficiency.

The Circular Bioeconomy Innovation Hub, involving many stakeholders, aims to accelerate the bio-residue-based, waste-based businesses for supplementing the overall income of the farmers and create new growth avenues for the local communities. The Hub will strive to create required awareness, support system and ecosystem to facilitate a shift towards Circular Bioeconomy in India.

Indian Green Credit Programme: A step ahead of Carbon Credits

Indian Green Credit Programme: A step ahead of Carbon Credits

BAIF and other Civil Society Organisations have a major role in facilitating local individuals and entities to avail of green credits. Broadening of the Climate Change Perspective of India was evident when the Green Credit Initiative along with its web portal was launched at the high-level “Green Credits Programme”, jointly hosted by Hon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the President of UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the Global Summit on December 1, 2023. This initiative marked the transition from only carbon credit to green credit with anticipated far-reaching environmental benefits through local action and promotion of tradable credits. Shri. Narendra Modi likened the Green Credit to the health card of an individual and urged the global community to start adding positive points into the Earth’s health card. Earlier, while addressing the Opening Ceremony of the High-level segment at the Summit, Shri. Narendra Modi stated that “India has set before the world an example of the perfect balance of Ecology and Economy. Despite India having 17% of the world’s population, our share in global carbon emissions is only less than 4%.” This initiative is one more step in alignment with the Government of India’s ‘LIFE – Lifestyle for Environment’ – a grassroots, mass movement for protection and conservation of the Environment and Climate gains.

ICAR Recognises BAIF as a Voluntary Centre on Millets

ICAR Recognises BAIF as a Voluntary Centre on Millets

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi, the apex agricultural research institution in the country, has approved and recognised BAIF Development Research Foundation as a Voluntary Centre on Millets (Finger Millets) for conducting various evaluation trials under the All India Coordinated Research Project on Small Millets vide an approval letter F. No. 7 -23/2023-CS-FFC of December 6, 2023.

With ‘Mission Millets’ as its motto during the International Year of Millets and series of field-based programmes and exhibitions arranged by BAIF to showcase its pioneering work on popularisation of millets, this recognition gives a tremendous boost to the agro-biodiversity conservation being implemented by BAIF with special focus on revival and conservation of indigenous landraces of small millets cultivated by farmers in five tribal blocks of Maharashtra.

BAIF is already officiating as the approved Official Centre of theAll India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) on Forage Crops and Utilization (AICRPFCU), Animal Nutrition and Cattle. It is also a Voluntary Centre of the All-India Coordinated Research Project on Sorghum. Under AICRP on Forage Crops and Utilization, the focus is on development of improved forage varieties and hybrids, generation of intensive forage production technologies, breeder seed production and technology transfer in the field. BAIF recently hosted the National Group Meet: Rabi 2023-24 in Pune where the President and Managing Trustee of BAIF, Dr, Bharat Kakade had proposed a voluntary centre on Small Millets at BAIF during his Keynote Address.

Healthy Soil for a Healthy Planet: Focus of BAIF

Healthy Soil for a Healthy Planet: Focus of BAIF

BAIF has adopted a Pro-Soil approach in all its land-based programmes. Based on this focus on Nature, BAIF has been implementing programmes with smart soil and water management practices which have enhanced the soil carbon content and also demonstrated the sustainability aspects through efficient soil and water conservation measures which have addressed climate change by opting for solutions that are nature-based and nature-positive. Thus, BAIF Programmes are designed not only to enhance livelihoods but also to conserve and regenerate precious natural resources and to ensure a shift from environmental destruction to environmental stability.

World Soil Day is being observed in various operational areas of BAIF across 14 states with a pledge to save soil and enhance soil health to ensure a healthy planet. BAIF delegation is currently participating in various sessions at the Blue Zone of COP28 in Dubai and sharing BAIF’s soil-sensitive and pro-soil approach which have increased the crop yield by 30-40% and decreased the use of external inputs while restoring the ecosystem.