Sanvadini – An Outbound Call Centre, Digital Advisory for Farmers

Sanvadini – An Outbound Call Centre, Digital Advisory for Farmers

Dr. Lata Sharma
Nov 20, 2023
Dr. Lata Sharma
Nov 20, 2023

Introduction

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.

Impact

 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

Dr. Lata Sharma

Senior Project Officer
BAIF, CRS, Uruli Kanchan, Pune

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Another landmark MoU between BAIF and Odisha Government

Another landmark MoU between BAIF and Odisha Government

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.

Biotechnology – In-Vitro-Fertilization (IVF) – A way to multiply superior germplasm in Livestock

Biotechnology – In-Vitro-Fertilization (IVF) – A way to multiply superior germplasm in Livestock

Mr. Prasad D. Deshpande
Nov 03, 2023
Mr. Prasad D. Deshpande
Nov 03, 2023

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.

Mr. Prasad D. Deshpande

Senior Thematic Program Executive
BAIF, CRS, Uruli Kanchan, Pune

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Birth Centenary of Shri. Arvind Mafatlal, former Chairman of BAIF celebrated

Birth Centenary of Shri. Arvind Mafatlal, former Chairman of BAIF celebrated

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.

Traditional practices for newly registered Kathani cattle breed

Traditional practices for newly registered Kathani cattle breed

Dr. R. L. Bhagat
Oct 20, 2023
Dr. R. L. Bhagat
Oct 20, 2023

Introduction:

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.

Breeding area:

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.

Traditional Practices:

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.

Dr. R. L. Bhagat

Senior Thematic Program Executive
BAIF, CRS, Uruli Kanchan, Pune

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Embryo Transfer – A tool for genetic improvement in cattle and buffaloes

Embryo Transfer – A tool for genetic improvement in cattle and buffaloes

Dr. Hemant Kadam
Oct 05, 2023
Dr. Hemant Kadam
Oct 05, 2023

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

National Group Meet: Rabi 2023-24 of All India Coordinated Research Project on Forage Crops and Utilization hosted by BAIF

National Group Meet: Rabi 2023-24 of All India Coordinated Research Project on Forage Crops and Utilization hosted by BAIF

Release of Report of “Four decades of Forage Research”

Dr. T.R. Sharma, Deputy Director General – Crop Sciences, ICAR, New Delhi chaired the inaugural session. While highlighting the highest milk producing states such as Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh as in 2021-22, he also highlighted that green fodder made up 11.24% and dry fodder 23.4% and the need to work on for green and dry fodder management. Fodder sources were three – one, 18% grazing source, second, 54% crop residues and 28% green fodder and rain-fed systems. He identified the existing gaps as the need to broaden the genetic base of raised grasses, develop multi-cut legume varieties, develop improved varieties of perennial grasses, legumes and fodder trees and praised the geo-meditating effort at IGFRI which he stated will increase genetic variability in targeted crops, joining hands with private companies, standardization of seeds and seed production technologies, post-harvest and value addition for forage conservation, utilization and storage, development of strategies for mainstreaming of bio-fortification, he further stated. Dr. Sharma was speaking at the National Group Meet: Rabi 2023-24 of the All India Coordinated Research Project on Forage Crops and Utilization (AICRPFCU) hosted by BAIF Development Research Foundation, Urulikanchan, the approved Official Centre of AICRPFCU at its Head Office at Warje, Pune.

The major activities at the BAIF Centre include development of improved forage varieties and hybrids, generation of intensive forage production technologies, fodder seed production and technology transfer in the field.

Establishment of Golden Jubilee Forage Gardens in 50 Coordinated Centres and Voluntary Centres under the Project which have been visited by more than half a lakh visitors since 2020, identification of 114 forage varieties during 2017-2023, 53 forage production technologies and 1305 forage technology demonstrations. Genomic assisted breeding and speed breeding by Indian Grassland and Forage Research Institute (IGFRI), Jhansi and under the AICRP Project, commercialization of various technologies to private companies, Front Line Demonstrations (FLDs) and seed hubs in forage crops, development plans for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and North Eastern Hills were some of the major recommendations. The proposed activities included summer trials for fodder oats and Lucerne in dry temperate regions, off-season nursery for generation advancement and standardisation for bio-fortification in forage varieties such as maize, oats and pearl millets, were the significant achievements of the Technical Programme implemented during Rabi 2022-23 highlighted by Dr. V.K. Yadav, Project Coordinator, AICRPFCU.

Dr. Amaresh Chandra, Director, IGFRI and Special Guest on the occasion, shared the plan of increasing the number of Golden Jubilee Forage Gardens from 50 to 100 gardens and the need for reliable data for identifying the deficiency in green and dry fodder and also in millets and grassland development.

Dr. Bharat Kakade, President and Managing Trustee, BAIF and Chief Guest at the Inaugural Session, proposed a Voluntary Centre for Millets and also highlighted the more than four- decade old association of BAIF with ICAR, development of nationally released promising fodder varieties of BAIF Napier and BAIF Bajra.  He stated the importance of the landscape management programme undertaken by BAIF to address the issues of land degradation, vegetation cover and soil health and especially the grassland management in the country. He also highlighted that BAIF has already planted more than one million fruit and forestry plants during the current year 2023 with the small holder poor families which will fetch them an annual income in the range of Rs. 50,000 to 70,000. So far, BAIF has supported the needy farmers to develop Agro-horti-forestry (wadi) on 2.8 lakh ha area across 12 states and watershed management on 3 lakh ha area. He emphasized devising coping strategies to deal with the upcoming challenges of competing demand for green biomass and agri-residues for bio-energy production through the private sector. At the same time he mentioned the potential of fodder production along with carbon sequestration through management of 17 to 18% of pasture lands in the country.

The All India Coordinated Research Project on Forage Crops and Utilization (AICRPFCU) was established in 1970. The coordinating unit of this research project is located at Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute (IGFRI), Jhansi. It has 22 Coordinated Centers and 25 Voluntary centers located in different agro-climatic zones of India. The project works for the development of improved forage varieties, hybrids and synthetics; technologies for sustainable forage production, forage seed production and technology transfer. The project has a mandate to coordinate multi-location testing programme at the national level with a view to identify appropriate technologies for different agro-ecological conditions, monitor research-related to problems of national and regional contexts, conduct strategic and applied research for boosting production and productivity of forages (arable rain-fed and irrigated forage crops, range grass and pasture legumes) and to function as a major service center for exchange of scientific information and research material related to forages.

Release of Annual Report of Rabi 2022-23

The Annual Report – Rabi 2022-23: All India Coordinated Research Project on Forage Crops and Utilization was released on this occasion along with other publications brought out by various coordinated centres such as “Four Decades of Forage Research: BAIF”, “Beneficial effects and management practices of millets” and “Molecular interventions for Developing Climate-Smart Crops: A forage Perspective” among others.

Mr. P. S. Takawale, Officer in charge of BAIF AICRPFCU Center and the Organizing Secretary of this National Group Meet proposed the vote of thanks. Earlier, Dr. Ashok Pande, Senior Advisor, Scientific Research and Livestock Development, BAIF welcomed the dignitaries and more than 80 participants comprising of research scientists in forage breeding, agronomy, plant protection and biochemistry from coordinated and voluntary centers of the AICRPFCU, National and State Seed Corporations, National Dairy Development Board, private seed companies and dairy farmers.

A special brainstorming session on Technological options and challenges for fodder security under present scenario was held after the inaugural session.

The two-day meet will be reviewing the work undertaken at the Coordinated Centres in various disciplines of forage crops, dissemination of technology in the field and engaging in discussions on breeder seed production to be taken up during the next season. The proposal for identification of varieties / hybrids received from various centres will be taken into consideration with focus on their release by the Varietal Identification Committee established under this Research Project. The plenary session on September 27, will focus on the recommendations which will emerge from the technical sessions.

Participants at the workshop

Spineless Cactus – An Amazing Species for Arid and Semi-Arid Regions of India

Spineless Cactus – An Amazing Species for Arid and Semi-Arid Regions of India

Dr. Vitthal Kauthale
Sep 18, 2023
Dr. Vitthal Kauthale
Sep 18, 2023

Introduction : Almost 53.4 per cent of India’s land area comprises of arid and semi-arid regions. The climato-vegetational   condition of the arid and semi-arid zones indicates a very extreme temperature, very low and erratic precipitation, high wind speed, high evapotranspiration, scarcity of water, low content of organic matter and presence of soluble salt in the soil leading to very low productivity of agricultural crops and poor availability of natural resources of the area, which affects the livelihood of the local community. To address this critical issue, scientists across the world have been scouting for suitable crop species that can not only grow in hostile agro-climatic conditions but also provide food, fodder and other economic benefits.

Opuntia ficus-indica species known as cactus pear, is a climate-resilient smart crop, which has been introduced in recent times in India.  It has multiple uses especially for our farmers in arid or rainfed regions. It is tolerant to drought, high temperature and frost and is adaptive to a hot arid environment because of xerophytic characters, enabling the plants to survive prolonged periods of drought. It is a multipurpose plant species which is easy to establish. Cactus cladodes are rich in minerals like Ca, Mg, Na, P and K and have moderate protein and fibre content. Cactus contains high percentage of water (85- 90 per cent) and hence when fed to livestock, the water requirement of animals is reduced by 40 to 50 per cent. Cactus can generate carbon sequestration of 30 T CO2e/ha/year under sub-optimal growing conditions. Being a multipurpose crop with use as food, fodder, fuel, fertilizer and fashion, cactus achieves some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This has made this plant a climate-smart crop and an integral aspect of agricultural economy in arid and semi-arid regions of India as well as the world.

Uses of Cactus: Cactus has capacity to produce good biomass throughout the year using minimum water. Cactus and its fruits are now becoming a source of agro-foods available in more than 50 products i.e. marmalades, juices, nectars, candies, frozen pulp, alcoholic beverages, pickles, sauces, shampoos, soaps and lotions. Cactus plant has medicinal uses such as an antacid, arterial sclerosis, anti-cholesterolic, prostatis and hyperglycemia. It has proven potential for diversification and improving livelihood for sustainability in dry lands of India. Cactus is a good species for soil and water conservation, rangeland and marginal land rehabilitation and crop land management. Against the backdrop of ongoing climate change, prolonged droughts, land degradation and desertification, this hardy crop demonstrates significant social, environmental and socio-economic benefits.

The adaptation trials at BAIF campuses in Wagholi, Maharashtra, Lakkihalli, Karnataka, Nanodara, Gujarat and Barmer, Rajasthan has highlighted the adaptability and suitability of cactus in prevailing soil and climatic conditions and also demonstrated the potential of cactus as a source of fodder for animals. Currently, 3.20 ha cactus plantations are being maintained on various campuses and planting material is being supplied to various agencies.

BAIF has developed e-learning module, video clipping, booklet, brochure as suitable training and extension material for promotion of cactus and also published research papers in International Journals and popular articles on cactus cultivation in the local print media.

BAIF’s Research and Development work on Cactus: BAIF Development Research Foundation initiated a comprehensive project on Cactus with NABARD support in 2015. BAIF has standardized the nursery techniques and tissue culture protocol for mass multiplication, production technology, protocol for feeding cactus to livestock and financial viability of cactus cultivation and nursery development at BAIF’s Central Research Station, Urulikanchan, Pune. A cactus arboretum with more than 100 accessions has been established and evaluated for adaptability, growth, yield and nutritional performance.

The research outcomes of this project have been transferred to farmers’ fields in arid and semi-arid areas of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka. More than 800 field demonstrations have been developed on farmers’ fields and the growth and yield performance monitored periodically. The farmers are currently utilising cactus cladodes for feeding their goat, sheep, cattle and buffaloes. These plantations are also acting as decentralised nurseries for supply of planting material. BAIF have also supplied more than one lakh cladodes to Krishi Vigyan Kendra, State Agriculture University, Government Seed farms and NGOs to promote cactus as a fodder for livestock.

Cactus-fresh biomass yield ranges from 20 to 35 tons/ha at two years of plant growth and largely depends on the soil type and management practices adopted by the farmers. The subsequent increase in biomass yield was also noticed over a period of plant growth.  Cactus feeding trials were undertaken in small and large ruminants and it revealed high palatability in goats as well as in milking cows. The results indicated that 3-4 kg of cactus was voluntarily consumed by adult goats whereas 7-8 kg of cactus were consumed by milking cows per day along with roughages. Hence, cactus has replaced 25 percent of green fodder. The average daily gain in body weight and overall growth were observed to be satisfactory during the feeding of cactus.

Cactus for fruits : Some of the fruit type accessions have been identified among the available germplasm collections in cactus arboretum at BAIF, Urulikanchan. Besides fruit yield, quality parameters including colour, taste, sugar content and nutritional properties of the fruits are being studied to identify the best accession for further multiplication and exploration for commercial fruit production as well as value added product development.

Cactus for Bio leather and Biogas/ Bioenergy : For exploring cactus as bio leather, collaborative research with CSIR-National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST), Trivandrum and M/S Streekaya Services Pvt. Ltd. Mumbai, is in progress. NIIST has developed a protocol for bio leather (vegan leather) production, studied its properties and economics of production. Cactus pears meet the criteria of energy crop and biogas production is 0.36 m3 kg/DM having 55 to 70 % methane (CH4). The slurry coming out from the digester is a very good fertilizer and can be used in crop production. The work is being taken forward in collaboration with International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), ICAR institutes and a few start-up companies.

Future prospects : In vast areas of India which are rainfed, cactus can be grown with minimum availability of water. The Ministry of Land Resources and Watershed, Government of India is showing considerable interest in promoting cactus plantation on available watershed areas/ degraded land / waste land / rangelands in arid and semi-arid regions across the country. There is a need to establish a decentralised cactus nursery on farmers’ fields and for Government institutes to cater to the increasing demand of planting material. Cactus as a raw material can be utilised for multiple uses like green fodder, community biogas and bio CNG, bio leather and pharmaceutical and industrial products.

Dr. Vitthal Kauthale

Chief Thematic Programme Executive
BAIF Development Research Foundation
Central Research Station, Uruli Kanchan, Pune 412 202

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Sire contributes 50 percent of the total animals in the herd

Sire contributes 50 percent of the total animals in the herd

Dr. R. L. Bhagat
Sep 05, 2023
Dr. R. L. Bhagat
Sep 05, 2023

Introduction:

Rural livestock improvement is one of the core activity approaches of BAIF to ensure gainful self-employment and sustainable livelihood approach at the rural level.  This activity is not only a tool for income generation and improvement of the quality of life of the rural population but also an opportunity for dairy population improvement. The method varies from using frozen semen from exotic breed dairy sires (Jersey or Holstein Friesian) to crossbreed rural indigenous (Zebu) cows to produce crossbreds with high milk potential to preserving and enhancing indigenous stock through their characterization and genetic improvement using frozen semen from chosen bulls through Artificial Insemination.

Breeding the field animals through natural service:

Traditionally, bulls have been used by natural service to impregnate females for producing calves. Since one bull is used for providing service to many females, his contribution to improvement becomes more important than that of females. In natural mating, while realizing the importance of the bull in transmitting good qualities to its progeny, it was also noticed that the level of impact was much less than desired due to the production of a few numbers of daughters during the year. The invention of Artificial Insemination (A.I.) created an opportunity to produce a large number of daughters from a bull to create a sizable impact of its inheritance, to genetically improve the milk production potential. Such a program was launched by BAIF right in the initial establishment years by importing frozen semen of highly merited bulls from Europe and America and thereafter from locally available selected bulls when semen freezing facilities were established and standardized.

Generation-wise contribution of sire:

Considering the objective of improving milk and the overall productive and reproductive performance of rural animals, the selection of top-class quality bulls for producing a large number of daughters to make the desired impact is necessary. In the 1st generation sire contributes 50 percent to the foundation stock, in the 2nd generation, his contribution is 75 percent and in the 3rd generation, 87.5 percent contributes from 3 sires to the foundation stock. (See the following Image) and the bull effect continues for 10 years.

Bull selection methods:

There are three popular methods for selecting bulls for breeding field animals and they are as follows;

1. Physical confirmation: In this bull selection method, more importance is given to the breed characters rather than the milk production potential of his dam. While selecting the bull it is also seen that the bull is free from any physical ailments like lameness, blindness, any damaged part of the body, etc. This bull selection method is used for draft-purpose breeds E.g. Khillar, Hallikar, Red Kandhari, etc,

2. Physical confirmation and pedigree selection: In this bull selection method along with physical confirmation, the bull’s pedigree (ancestors’ information) is also seen like, the milk production capacity of his dam, his sisters, and grand dam. If the pedigree information of three generations is available, then it is considered to be much better. This method is used for selecting the bulls from milk breeds and crossbreed animals.

3. Physical confirmation, pedigree, and progeny performance: This is the most reliable method of bull selection before the bull is put into extensive use. The developed countries that made extensive genetic improvements in milk production used this method on a very large scale. In this bull selection method, the selection of bulls is made after comparing a large number of bulls and selecting a top few of them to be used extensively. Since bulls themselves do not give milk, the average production of their daughters is considered for comparison. Standard procedures are defined for doing this and the process is known as progeny testing. The field progeny testing has prime importance as bulls are selected on the performance of daughters born at farmers’ herd and every farmer has his own feeding and management practices followed for their animals.

4. BAIF experience in progeny testing: The first field progeny testing attempt in BAIF was initiated during the period 1980-85. During this period, pure Holstein and Jersey breed bulls were progeny tested on the basis of their crossbred daughters produced under farmer conditions. This probably was the first attempt of this sort in the country.

The absence of information and experience on many aspects of field recording in the country calls for a need to build knowledge on the aspects of fine-tuning the recording system to increase the accuracy of progeny testing.

Dr. R. L. Bhagat

Senior Thematic Program Executive
BAIF, CRS, Uruli Kanchan, Pune

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Foundation Day celebrated at BAIF Central Research Station

Foundation Day celebrated at BAIF Central Research Station

Chief Guest Shrimant Sanjeev Raje Naik Nimbalkar, Chairman, Govind Dairy, Phaltan awarding Best SHG Award to Madhav SHG

The 57 Foundation Day of BAIF was celebrated on August 24, 2023 at BAIF Central Research Station at Urulikanchan near Pune. Mrs. Ritu Chhabria, Managing Trustee, Mukul Madhav Foundation was the Guest of Honour. On this occasion, Shri. Arvindbhai Mafatlal Kisan Mitra Award was awarded to outstanding farmers associated with BAIF programmes. The BAIF and BAIF Livelihoods Annual Reports and Research highlights were released. Dr. Ashok Pande, Senior Adviser, Scientific Research and Livestock welcomed the audience . Dr. Jayant Khadse, Research Director, BAIF proposed the vote of thanks.

BAIF Trustee Shri. Pratap Pawar awarding Second Best SHG Award to Ganesh SHG

BAIF Trustee Shri. Kishor Chaukar awarding Best SHG in Maharashtra Programme to Kumkum SHG

Signing of MoU between BAIF and NDDB

Signing of MoU between BAIF and NDDB

Dr. Bharat Kakade, President and Managing Trustee, BAIF signing the MoU

An MoU was signed between National Dairy Development Board and BAIF Development Research Foundation on the 57th Foundation Day of BAIF on August 24, 2023 for promotion of collaborative research, training and outreach programmes and facilitation of exchange of scientific outcomes and research applications for dairy development in the country. This overarching collaborative agreement between the apex dairy development organization in India and a leading civil society organization was a watershed event in the history of dairy development in the country.

The agreement was signed between Dr. Bharat Kakade, President and Managing Trustee, BAIF Development Research Foundation, Pune and Dr. Meenesh Shah, Managing Director, National Dairy Development Board, Anand in the presence of research scientists and senior officials from BAIF and NDDB.

Dr. Meenesh Shah Managing Director, NDDB signing the MoU

BAIF celebrates 77th Independence Day of the country

BAIF celebrates 77th Independence Day of the country

India stepped into its 77th Independence Day after completing 76 years of independence.  The day also marked the culmination of the nationwide enthusiastic celebration of “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav” which was announced in 2021 when India entered its 75th year of independence.

The tri-colour was hoisted at the headquarters of BAIF amidst an atmosphere charged with patriotism, pride and joy.  The programme began with a ceremonial Guard of Honour by the security staff stationed at the headquarters followed by Dr. Bharat Kakade, President, BAIF hoisting the national flag in the presence of BAIF Pune team including Mr. Sujit Gijare, Group Vice President, HR and Administration and singing of the national anthem in unison.

While welcoming the assembled staff which comprised of Senior Management, Senior Programme implementation teams and school-going children of the staff, Dr. Kakade made a plea to everyone to make an effort to contribute to the development in the country. This was the need of the hour as he lamented that out of the total 191 countries in the world, India ranked 132 which meant that there were 131 countries above India which were better positioned in terms of progress and development in their respective countries.  Against this background, he expressed the urgent need to ensure development in every sphere in our country and especially in the rural sector which is still struggling due to lack of basic infrastructural facilities and attention.  He called upon the BAIF team to continue their mission and focus on addressing the problems of the rural poor.  Dr. Kakade highlighted the scope for BAIF to contribute to the economic development of the country through sustainable development which can also improve the overall status of India worldwide. He also highlighted the need for suitable climate actions to address climate change-induced issues in rural areas of our country.

Dr. Avinash Deo, Adviser, BAIF, highlighted the scope of the livestock development sector in ensuring rural prosperity and the contribution of BAIF to this sector through its dairy husbandry and smallholders-focussed development. Mr. Gijare highlighted the significance of this celebration for BAIF and conveyed his good wishes to the audience on this occasion.

Flag hoisting ceremony was also held in various State Headquarters and operational areas of BAIF with immense pride and enthusiasm.