S M Sehgal Foundation is implementing a development project, on Agriculture and Allied Activities with women farmers since August 2021 in five villages in block Minapur, Muzaffarpur district, Bihar: Panapur, Piprahan Asli, Kharika, Ramto Bahan, and Parsad.
The project organized the community into ten Women Farmers Groups (WFG), two in each village, for imparting know how. In November and December 2021, trainings were held for the WFGs on animal husbandry with a focus on animal nutrition. In these trainings, WFG members were apprised about the importance of feeding their milch animals with a nutrition supplement, as well as about the need for the addition of green fodder to daily feed, vaccinations, deworming, general care, and the prevention of common diseases. Subsequently, 100 selected members of the 250 WFG members, were provided with animal nutrition supplements for a period of six months to serve as demonstration.
In twenty days after feeding their animals with the nutrient supplements, the women noticed that the milk had become thicker in consistency and had increased in quantity. The three liters of milk per day produced by an animal now became five liters. Next, the project team advised the women to measure the content of fat and solids-not-fat (SNF) in the milk. These are important constituents of milk that determine its price. In India, the problem of low fat and SNF in milk is quite common and leads to economic losses for the producers.
Munni devi was the first to get the milk tested in the collection center of Sudha Dairy in Parsad village, which is a cooperative society from where milk and its products are sold in Bihar. Munni devi’s initiative motivated the other women participating in the demonstration to follow suit and test their milk. It was found that indeed the fat and SNF content was higher in the milk of the animals that had been fed with the nutrition supplement. Based on this finding, Sudha Dairy was willing to buy the milk at the rate of INR 48 per liter, instead of what the local vendors were giving to the producers, which was a rate of INR 35. This was an increase of INR 13 per liter, and the WFG members now practically understood the relevance of improved animal nutrition.
Thus by spending an additional INR 600 per month, per animal on the nutrition kit, the family gained an additional income of INR 2100, i.e. a net profit of INR 1,500 per month, per animal. And the animals are now healthy, which further results in lowering health-related costs.
Authors: Anand Maurya and Neeraj Dubey
(Anand is field specialist, Muzaffarpur and Neeraj is assistant program lead, Muzaffarpur, Bihar)