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.
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.
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.
India is an agricultural country. Hence, the economy of India is dependent on the agriculture sector. Agriculture and farmers have assumed unique positions in Indian society. The population is increasing day by day and along with the increasing population, the comforts and conveniences of people i.e. buildings, roads, settlements, industries and dams are also increasing rapidly. Therefore, the amount of arable land is gradually decreasing. The challenge is to satisfy the hunger of the growing population from the limited agricultural area. After independence, Green Revolution emerged and our traditional farming system started changing into a modern farming system.
To obtain more yield, we started cultivating hybrids and improved varieties of crops which gave maximum yield initially. But as crop production increased, so did the uptake of nutrients from the soil. This resulted in deficiency of different nutrients in the field and the amount of organic carbon in the field also decreased. We started using chemical fertilizers to overcome the deficiency of nutrients in the soil. Due to the balanced use of primary and secondary micronutrients, we were successful in increasing the productivity and quality of crops.
Chemical fertilizers have given us tremendous benefits. In the last 50 years, farmers have been using excessive amounts of chemical fertilizers in an unbalanced way in an attempt to obtain more production. Therefore, it started having an adverse effect on the availability of nutrients. For example, if the phosphorus content in the soil was high, micronutrients like zinc and iron in the soil were not available to the crops even though they were in the soil. Therefore, it is important to balance the nutrients with the right fertilizers to compensate for the nutrient deficiency in the soil.
Many farmers believe that the more water they give to crops like sugarcane, the higher will be the yield. Thus, farmers continue to water the crop even when it is not needed. As a result, the soil loses its nutrients. Some farmers dig wells and borewells in the fields and use the groundwater for irrigation. The amount of salt in such water is high. Due to the excessive use of such water in agriculture, the soils become saline and over time, these soils are converted into unproductive soil. Therefore, it is necessary to plan the watering of the agricultural field.
New hybrid varieties of crops have come into the market which enable farmers to receive maximum output from agriculture. However, these crops are also attacked by various diseases and pests. Farmer can manage these diseases and pests by traditional, physical, mechanical, biological and chemical methods. In recent years, farmers are also in a hurry to receive quick yields and returns. To achieve this, they make excessive use of different chemicals which is much more than the recommended use. Thus, due to over-use of chemicals, the chemical residues accumulate in the soil and destroy soil beneficial microorganisms and degrade the quality of the soil.
To increase the area under cultivation, we have started clearing forests and establishing agriculture and thereby changing the landscape created by nature. As a result, the fertile soil layer on the surface of the land has started moving from one place to another. This is what we call soil erosion. Soil erosion adversely affects agricultural land. The fertile layer of the soil is lost, while in some places, the soil on the hill slopes is eroded and the materials such as mud, soil, stones, sand, etc., flow along with the flow of water and spread on the fertile land rendering the fertile land useless. In some places, there are problems of flooding, while in some places there is division of land. Soil erosion in this manner adversely affects soil health.
The UN General Assembly launched 2015 as the “International Year of Soils” under the theme “Soils: A Foundation for Family Farming” which aimed to create awareness in civil society and decision-makers about the fundamental role of soils in human life. Similarly, we are celebrating December 5, 2023 as “World Soil Day” under the theme “Soil and Water: A Source of Life”. The main purpose is to raise awareness of the importance and relationship between soil and water in achieving sustainable and resilient agrifood systems.
BAIF’s Initiatives on Soil Health Management:
- As more capital is required in modern agriculture, soil and water testing is extremely important. Regular soil and water testing is the key to planned and profitable farming. Under its Pro-Soil Project, BAIF Development Research Foundation undertook soil testing and distribution of soil health cards among the farmers in various land-based programmes followed by technical guidance by BAIFs Agricultural experts on soil test-based nutrient management to ensure balanced use of fertilizers based on the needs of the crops.
2. To prevent the top fertile layer of soil from being washed away with rain water, the hill slope soil was protected by adopting water-centric livelihoods for land degradation neutrality and soil carbon enrichment. Till date, BAIF has developed 789 watersheds covering 3,72,109 hectares area which has raised the groundwater table and green cover, improved micro-climate and increased agricultural productivity by 35 to 40 %. The estimated carbon sequestration/offset achieved through BAIFs initiatives on natural resources management, silvopasture, soil health improvement and efficient water use is about 1,00,000 t C per year.
3. To reduce the soil disturbance BAIF promoted direct seeded rice technology on 1102 ha in Andhra Pradesh and Bihar and zero tillage cultivation practices on wheat demonstrated on 3532 ha in Bihar.
4. With increased organic carbon content in soil, BAIF promoted green manuring activity with Dhaincha, Sunhemp and Navadhanya on 1000 ha at Prakasam, Palnadu and Eluru districts of Andhra Pradesh. To improve the organic carbon content in soil and alternative solutions for crop residue management BAIF promoted Biochar, vermicompost, farm yard manures, city compost, biodigester, bio-prom and decomposers in Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana, Karnataka and Uttarakhand.
5. Generally, 33 % of the total area in any village, district or state should be under forest cover. To convert the uncultivated land into productive assets and increase the tree cover outside the forest, BAIF has been implementing the Agri-Horti-Forestry (Wadi) programme and has planted fruit and forestry trees on 89,000 ha. The BAIF Wadi model has been scaled up in 25 states with the support of NABARD. Two million tons of total estimated carbon has been sequestered through the wadi programme.
6. To reduce the production cost of farmers and to reduce the excess use of chemicals in agriculture, BAIF established 10 Drums, Jeevamrut, Bijamrit and Dashparni Neem Ark and Vermiwash units at the village level and guided the farmers on its preparation and application.
7. BAIF has promoted integrated pest management, bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides under various projects.
8. To end mono-cropping system, BAIF has promoted and introduced alternative crops at farmers’ fields and maintained a crop rotation system.
9. To increase nutrient use efficiency BAIF demonstrated and promoted Briquettes technology in rice crops with 157 farmers at Bhor, Welhe, Rajgurunagar and Jawhar in Maharashtra.
10. To increase water use efficiency and avoid excess use of irrigation water, BAIF has promoted Drip and Sprinkler irrigation systems. This has ensured conservation of 90 % of water and prevented soluble elements of our soil from being washed away.
Dr. Sagar Jadhav
Senior Research Officer
BAIF Development Research Foundation, Pune
BAIF has been functioning as a coveted study centre for Management students pursuing their post-graduation in Rural Management for many years. IRMA, Anand, a premier Institute for Rural Management in India, deputed six of their Post-Graduate Management students to BAIF Central Research Station at Urulikanchan on a six-week internship programme in partial requirement of the Village Fieldwork Segment of the PGDM-RM programme from October 9 to November 25, 2023. The field learnings of the host organisation – BAIF spanning over 57 years, served as a rich source of hands-on experience in rural development and management for the students prior to embarking on a career in rural transformation and renewal.
The need for MRV (Monitoring, Reporting & Verification) tools for Policy makers, Farmers, Businesses and Civil Society to assess value chains and report to consumers (Soil health side event)
Date- 5 December 2023
Time- 9.00-11.00 maximum or 9.00-10.30
Venue: COP blue zone (to confirm once)
Time: (Through: 4p1000 )
Attended by -Rakesh W
In India, livestock is the primary source of income for landless farmers supplemented with agriculture. However, a majority of the dairy farmers have poor or no access to information apart from lack of access to extension and veterinary services, education and training facilities. There are also very few call centres catering to the needs of dairy farmers.
Challenges faced by dairy farmers
Despite a wide range of reform initiatives in agricultural and livestock extension in India in the past few decades, the coverage, access to and quality of information provided to marginalized and poor farmers is unevenly distributed. This hinders the growth of the dairy enterprise or business resulting in loss of interest of farmers in this enterprise. Hence, there is a need to establish call centres to cater to the needs of the farmers on various critical aspects such as breeding, housing, health and feeding of animals for achieving higher production with a smaller number of animals. Some of the challenges faced by dairy farmers are:
- Shortage of feed/fodder. Growing trend of high breed animals is creating a huge demand for good quality feed and fodder to cater to the dietary requirement of milking animals and use of feed pre-mixes.
- Hygiene conditions.
- Health issues of animals.
- Lack of awareness and training of dairy farmers
- Supply Chain. Absence of requisite infrastructure such as chilling plants and bulk coolers to prevent contamination and spoilage at the village level.
- Poor returns on investment
- Growing shortage and cost of labour. Farmers welcome farm mechanisation in order to handle the situation.
- Growing consumer awareness and shifting lifestyle are forcing processors to move towards product innovation and thereby a growing demand for high quality equipment and various food ingredients.
The other concerns of dairy farmers are competition, cost of production and productivity of animals. Demand for high-quality dairy products is increasing, as is production in many emerging countries.
On account of a growing middle class, rising prosperity, changing food habits and level of awareness, the demand for milk and milk products is increasing at a rapid pace in the Indian market. A lot of innovation is taking place at the consumer end and thus the demand for new technology, machinery, packaging solutions, food diagnostics and food ingredients is increasing.
Keeping all the challenges and current marketing demand in the mind, it is necessary to educate dairy farmers to ensure higher milk production with a smaller number of animals and to create awareness about animal rearing for ensuring breeding of healthy animals.
The National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) launched a call centre – Pashu Mitra for dairy farmers to address their queries on animal health, nutrition and productivity. BAIF too launched a farmers’ Call Centre – Sanvadini in the year 2015 particularly for BAIF participant farmers to provide support to farmers through dialogues over the telephone.
This outbound Call Centre was started to provide advisories to farmers involved in Dairy husbandry activities. Rural women with farming background have been appointed as Operators or Communicators who call the farmers to provide valuable information and to satisfy their queries on dairy cattle management.
Major Objectives of Sanvadini
The main objectives of Sanvadini are:
- To provide technical guidance, input support and extension services such as veterinary care, breeding, supply of balanced ration and feed supplements, fodder seed, fodder crops and training to dairy farmers through experts.
- To identify farmer problems and ensure proactive discussions and solutions and their demand for various services.
- Calls can lead to wider application of services and dissemination of inputs, improve the quality of milk and thereby increase farm income significantly.
- Generate a database of dairy farmers, which can further be used for various surveys, market studies and development planning.
In the last 8 years, more than 200,000 farmers have been covered through Sanvadini which has successfully provided ready solutions to farmers’ problems over telephone calls. If the communicator is unable to respond to various queries raised by the farmers, the call is escalated to the Subject Matter Specialists who answers the call and responds to the farmers’ needs. The response from the farmers has been very encouraging as they are getting advisories and updates on various critical issues in the dairy sector. Thus, today almost 10-12 percent calls are inbound calls, as against a totally outbound call centre form when it was launched.
There is a need to start more of such centres for not only helping the farmers in animal rearing and management but also for educating them about management of high yielding animals, technical guidance, advisories and input services. Such kind of centres will certainly help dairy farmers in operating dairy enterprise successfully.
The Call Centre is technically backed with a Customer Relations Management software integrated with cloud telephony, making it easy to replicate it in other States; farmers and calling data are managed centrally. Expansion or creation of more of such call centres will help to overcome the language barrier, as the advisories can be provided in local languages.
The Contact Number of Sanvadini is 02248914067
BAIF Development Research Foundation signed an MoU with the Directorate of Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Services, Fisheries & Animal Resources Development Department, Government of Odisha on November 16, 2023 in Cuttack for supply of 1.35 lac goat semen doses over a period of one year. The adoption of goat AI in the State on a large scale was catalysed with the significant initiative taken by BAIF in presenting and demonstrating the scope and benefits of the technology for farmers’ welfare. BAIF is reaching out to 1 lac families in 20 districts through various sustainable livelihood programmes in the State. The entry of BAIF in Odisha was forged with the signing of the agreement with Government of Odisha for “Kalyani” Project in 2011 through which 100 cattle development centres and 25 goat development centres were established in 14 districts for efficient door-step delivery of breeding and allied services.
In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is a biotechnological technique widely used in livestock. IVF in livestock offers several advantages, particularly in the multiplication of superior germplasm, which refers to the genetic material of animals that exhibit desirable traits such as high milk production, disease resistance, or other economically important characteristics.
The clinical and technological advances executed for a long time in animal duplication have resulted in the development of a variety of tools commonly referred to as Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART). The primary focus of these tools is to maximize the number of offspring from genetically superior animals and disseminate germplasm to breeders’ and farmer’s doorstep. Furthermore, ART allows for the effective utilization of donors with anatomical disabilities and sub-fertile conditions, for shielding the germplasm of threatened species and home breeds and transmission. The major advances in In Vitro Embryo Production (IVEP) today seek to improve overall performance at all procedural stages viz. ovarian stimulation, oocyte recovery, maturation, fertilization, embryo development, embryo freezing, embryo transfer and pregnancy establishment.
The native breeders are interested in conserving their native breeds for genetic assurance in the future. The conservation includes preservation along with upgradation of the genetic potential and management of a breed for use in the future. The powerful control of livestock assets consists of identification, characterization, evaluation, documentation and conservation.
BAIF established the IVF laboratory in 2018 with the project entitled, “Conservation and Multiplication of Superior Germplasm in Cattle by OPU-IVF Technology” under the Rashtriya Gokul Mission (RGM), National Mission on Bovine Productivity (NMBP), Government of India. Indigenous breeds such as Dangi, Deoni, Gaolao, Gir, Red Kandhari, and Sahiwal donors were selected based on the Minimum Standard Protocol set by the Government of India.
Farmers and animal breeders are utilizing BAIF’s IVF-Embryo transfer (ET) facility to multiply embryos from genetically superior animals. It enables rapid dissemination of desirable traits in the population. For those who are interested in producing desired sexed calves, during IVF only, sex-sorted semen is used. Nowadays, breeders are also trying to ensure genetic improvement in their herds, leading to higher productivity and profitability. As there is less transportation of live animals, it reduces the risks of disease transmission.
The desirable approach is to take up genetic development as well as conservation. Establishment of regional gene banks and participation of breeders, communities, gaushalas, NGOs and different applicable stakeholders are essential in the conservation programme.
The birth centenary of Shri. Arvind Mafatlal, former Chairman of BAIF, was celebrated in Chitrakoot and Mumbai with quiet dignity and in perfect synchronisation with the simple life led by Shri. Mafatlal and the values cherished by him throughout his life.
On this occasion, Hon. Prime Minister of India, Shri. Narendra Modi released a commemorative postage stamp in recognition of the contribution of Shri. Arvind Mafatlal to the development of the nation at Chitrakoot in Satna district of Madhya Pradesh. Shri. Narendra Modi highlighted the benevolent qualities of Shri. Mafatlal who he described as a visionary industrialist and successful entrepreneur and equally devoted to social causes with women empowerment, health care, education and employment for rural youth being his priorities. Shri. Narendra Modi further stated that Shri. Mafatlal was first and foremost a friend of the poor and always very sympathetic and sensitive to their sufferings.
In Mumbai, special issues of the BAIF Journal and Bhavan’s Journal dedicated to Shri. Arvind Mafatlal were released at the hands of His Holiness Radhanath Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of ISKCON at a function organised by the Mafatlal family. Invited speakers from the corporate, rural development and spiritual fields who had interacted very closely with Shri. Arvind Mafatlal, highlighted the noble qualities and values Shri. Mafatlal always upheld in his life – simplicity, humanity, professional management, judicious financial management and technical competency.
Shri. Arvind Mafatlal as Trustee, BAIF since 1974 and Chairman of BAIF from 1977 till 2011, strengthened the programmes of BAIF by his overwhelming support to the Founder of BAIF, Dr. Manibhai Desai, an associate of Mahatma Gandhi.
During November 2017 to March 2020, the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR), Karnal, Haryana, conducted a survey with the support of BAIF for evaluation and characterization of lesser-known cattle population from Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. The breed registration application was submitted to NBAGR and based on the recommendation of the Animal Husbandry Commissioner, Maharashtra state, these lesser known cattle population known as Kathani cattle, were registered as the 51st cattle breed and the second registered cattle breed from Vidarbha after Gaolao breed.
The Kathani cattle, found mainly in Gadchiroli, Gondia, and Chandrapur districts were surveyed. The breeding area is highlighted in the map below.
Feed and fodder resources:
It was observed that Tanis (after harvest leftover of paddy), Kadaba (dry jowar), Kutar (leftover of soybean, mung, wheat, cowpea, chickpea, pigeon pea and black gram) and grasses were the major fodder available for the Kathani breed. As mono cropping (paddy, soybean, tur, chickpea) based on rain-fed irrigation was practiced, in the absence of green fodder, Kukus (crushed home-made rice bran), kukus pani, kukus dana, kukus dhep and kukus pith were provided to the animals as concentrate feed.
Dongi: The laboratory proximate feed and fodder analysis revealed that Kathani animals were being reared on very low nutritive value content fodder. Inspite of feed and fodder deficiency, the farmers refrained from providing commercial mineral supplement to their animals. However, stale food, curry and hand washed water were stored in a vessel made of either wood, stone or cement concrete and locally known as ‘Dongi’ with a capacity of 8 to 10 litres and mixed with some quantity of kukus and fed to working bullocks and milking cows the next day in the morning.
Grazing of Animals in groups: The unique practice of group grazing was followed for Kathani cattle which was attributed to the availability of open grazing land especially in forest areas and work force for grazing the animals which led to a zero-input system and whatever was earned from animals like limited milk and manure and bullock power for agriculture resulted in surplus income for the cattle owners.
Aakhar / Gohan: A common place – Aakhar / Gohan where all the animals collect prior to grazing generally owned by the Gram Panchayat or belonging to the forest department measures one to one and a half acres and accommodates 80 to 100 animals of different age groups and are found in every village. The cow herder locally known as Gayaki waits for one and a half to two hours in this Aakhar till all the animals gather. The cow herder maintains a record of the cattle owner and the number of animals he is taking for grazing. The farmers start bringing their animals from 7 am onwards and remain up to 10 am. During this time, dung defecated by the animals becomes the property of the cow herder along with the responsibility of general cleaning of the place. The dung collected is sold as manure to interested farmers. After grazing in the evening time, when the animals return, they directly go to their respective owner’s house.
Gayaki: The cow herder (Gayaki) is generally illiterate or has received education only up to the 2nd or 3rd standard. One Gayaki takes 50 to 60 animals for common grazing and if the number of animals increases, then more than one person is involved to take care of the animals. The animal owner has to pay a certain fee per month for grazing of adult animals while suckling calves and animals below one year of age are not charged. Along with this token amount, in some parts, paddy is also given to the Gayaki. In his absence, he arranges for a substitute cow herder. The cow herder is rewarded (Bojara) in cash or kind and some token amount is also paid during festivals such as Deepawali. The Gayaki visits every owner and collects this Bojara once a year. They have to walk on an average 8 to 10 km behind the animals depending on the availability of grazing land and drinking water for the animals. If during grazing, any incident such as natural service, delivery, attack by wild animals and cases of animals going missing occurs, it is his responsibility to inform the cattle owner. This source of livelihood lasts only 10 months in a year from June to March and in the months of April and May, animals cannot be grazed as agricultural fields are left fallow.
Constraints of Gayakis: During discussions with some of the cow herders (Gayakis) engaged in this business for more than nine to ten years, it was realized that declining grazing land compels them to walk more distance behind the animals, fear of attack by wild animals such as tiger, wolf and bear, sudden abnormal behavior of animals which makes it difficult to control them, irregular payment from cattle owners, free of cost rearing of animals below one year of age, scarcity of drinking water for animals especially in summer resulting in covering a longer distance in search of water and difficulty in getting a substitute during illness were some of the serious constraints.
Constraints of animal owners: Animal owners also have their own constraints as in the absence of cow herder as the youth of today are not interested in this unreliable source of livelihood, they are forced to reduce the size of their herd and with low economic value of non-descript animals, their cash flow is poor and hence, they are unable to ensure regular payment of the Gayakis on time apart from rain-fed mono cropping pattern resulting in fodder shortage, lower market value of animals subsequent to the ban on animal slaughter and animal race.
Alternatives: The cattle owners in every village have formed 1 or 2 groups to take care of their animals. Four to six cattle owners form a group with 60 to 80 animals and every day, two owners take care of all the animals for two days and for the next two days, two other owners function as Gayakis.
Gedaga / Badaga: The normal age of the animal when they are put to agriculture work for the first time is around 3.5 to 4 years. A wooden two-piece ‘T’ shaped structure called Gedaga or Badaga in the local language is fitted on the neck of a bull calf who will serve as a bullock in the future. This helps to train such calves as psychologically he realized that he has to carry a load of such type. The weight of the Gedaga is around 5 to 7 kg and made from palas tree (Butea monosperma). This Gedaga is kept on the neck of the animals for 15 days which generates a feeling of yoke for the calf. Farmers find this technique easy to train bulls for agriculture work.
The foundation of any livestock development programme rests with the presence of a scientifically sound and systematic genetic improvement programme aimed at improving the genetic composition and productivity. Selection of genetically superior animals, multiplication and harvesting of superior breeding material and dissemination to millions of livestock owners who depend on livestock solely or partially for their income and livelihood are the ultimate goals of the programme.
India is bestowed with valuable livestock wealth especially good milch cattle and buffalo breeds such as Sahiwal, Gir, Red Sindhi, Murrah, Mehsana and Jaffarabadi respectively.
Embryo transfer technology provides an opportunity to disseminate the genetics of proven elite females and their maximisation than could have been achieved by natural way.
Ovum Pick Up (OPU), In Vitro Embryo Production (IVEP) and Embryo Transfer (ET) programmes have resulted in increased selection intensity, reduced generation intervals and increased genetic gains in livestock. OPU, IVF and ET technologies are now used in countries like Brazil, USA and Canada to produce highly productive animals from top producing cows and proven bulls for sustainable dairy industry. These two technologies also help in the development of herds of genetically valuable females or males. All these Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) have proven to be very useful research tools.
Under Indian conditions, Multiple Ovulation and Embryo Transfer (MOET) work was started around 1990s in sporadic institutes for production of elite dairy animals. Since last 4-5 years, Ovum Pick Up and In vitro Embryo Production (OPU-IVEP) have emerged as replacements to in vivo embryo production technique. It is envisaged that use of this technology to multiply the superior bovine germplasm can change the face of the dairy industry in India. India ranks first in milk production with a variety of cattle and buffalo breeds, which gives tremendous scope for sustainable increase in embryo production in the near future. Presently, these techniques can be used for production of elite bulls and bull mothers, creation of replacement herd, establishment of nucleus herd, breed conservation and rapid propagation of elite animals.
BAIF established its Embryo Transfer laboratory in the year 2001 and from 2018 onwards, BAIF started work in OPU-IVF by establishing an ultra-modern IVF laboratory. This technology is being used to its fullest extent at BAIF’s Bull Mother Farm and at farmers doorstep for production of animals with better genetics.
BAIF has undertaken embryo transfer technology in Sahiwal, Gir, Ongole, Dangi, HF Pure, Jersey Pure and cross bred animals as well as in buffaloes resulting in the birth of excellent male and female animals. Use of sexed sorted semen along with IVF is a useful tool for production of animals with desired sex. These animals are contributing to increased productivity and conservation of good genetics.
The success of the embryo transfer programme depends on the quality of the embryo, recipient selection, technical procedures followed for embryo production and skill of the ET experts. Hence, embryo transfer is a composite technology that requires expertise in many areas. As optimal utilization and results will reduce costs further, the technique has to be made more economical and affordable for Indian dairy farmers under field conditions.
Dr. Hemant Kadam
Sr. Thematic Program Executive
In-Charge, Bull Mother Farm & IVF- ET Activity
BAIF Central Research Station, Uruli Kanchan, Pune 412 202