|AGRICULTURE TRIBUNE||Monday, August 12, 2002, Chandigarh, India|
right input, dairying shall yield
clean that needle
Farm operations for
right input, dairying shall yield
of the viable options for diversification of agriculture is dairy
farming. It can also help face the challenges posed by the WTO.
In spite of India’s position as the highest producer of milk in the world, productivity per animal is very poor at just 987 l/ lactation, as against the 2038 l/ lactation world average. In the rural areas of Punjab, the average milk yield of desi cows (850 l/ lactation), crossbred cows (2750 l) and buffaloes (1800 l) is high as compared to the national average, but very low as compared to exotic breeds of cows (8000-10000 litres).
The potential from the available livestock in the state is 4500 l/ lactation for cows and 3100 l for buffaloes. Although there is significant increase in milk production in Punjab, yet there is a lot of scope for further improvement. Punjab being the best grain and fodder producing state of the country, is particularly suited for dairying. An advantage of dairy farming is that it can be practised from the smallest unit of one animal to tens of animals.
With proper selection of animals and efficient management, milk yield can be improved significantly. In order to identify various constraints and problems a workshop was organised at the Punjab Agricultural University under the EU-India Cross Cultural Innovation Network in which dairy farmers, university experts and representatives of state departments participated. It was agreed upon that the success of dairy farming depends upon the following main factors: i) availability of quality breeds; ii) artificial insemination facilities; iii) health care and extension services; iv) availability of feed and fodder; and v) efficient marketing system.
At present it is very difficult for a farmer to find high-yielding cows. There is no agency or breeding farm from where one can purchase the animals. Moreover, adequate facilities for artificial insemination are also not available. Thus, farmers cannot raise their own herds.
Although Punjab is an agricultural state, sufficient green fodder is not available. The green fodder requirement of the state is about 90 million tonnes, whereas only 32 million tonnes is produced. The area under fodder can easily be doubled. Non-availability of seeds is one of the constraints. Quality feed is also not available. The government should encourage feed production, but with rigorous implementation of the feed quality law.
The quality of the milk produced also needs improvement. The main reason for poor quality is the time lag between milking and reaching the chilling centre. The more the time lag the poorer the quality. Milk chillers should be installed at collection centres in the villages. The Animal Husbandry Department mainly provides health services, whereas extension services to educate farmers in animal husbandry are almost non-existent. Strong and efficient extension, health and insemination services are required. Efforts are being made to organise dairy farmers’ cooperatives, yet it is an unorganised sector. Most the farms operate at a small level, unable to make use of machines and modern management practices.
The genetic potential of high-yielding animals is not fully exploited as it requires adequate feeding and management of the animals right from birth. This requires adequate finance, which is always a limiting factor with most of the farmers. The rate of interest on dairy loans is 16.5 per cent, which is very high for farmers.
In a commercial dairy farming system with large herds, the machinery and animals need heavy investment. Experts, therefore, suggest that 50 per cent subsidy should be given to farmers for milking machines, frozen semen containers as well as the import of animals/ semen/ embryos.
Although there is a lot of improvement in marketing due to the efforts of Milkfed and private companies, yet much more needs to be done. The gap between the producer’s and the consumer’s prices is very high; at times the ratio is 1:2. Efficient management will not only reduce this gap but also both the producers and consumers will get relief. Farmers can get higher returns through increasing the per-animal yield as well as through remunerative prices.
The concept of dairy as an organised sector was introduced with the establishment of the Dairy Development Corporation. Later on, the corporation was converted into Milkfed and organising farmers into cooperatives at the village level was initiated. Now dairy farmers are being encouraged to organise themselves into village cooperatives. In order to become viable units, village cooperatives have formed their unions at the district level. A union is able to provide various services like supplies, milk collection, processing and marketing. All the milk unions have further united under a joint umbrella like Milkfed so as to become a strong business entity to compete with other companies.
At present Milkfed is a major player and handles 35 per cent of the total milk production of the organised sector in the state. Its brand name Verka has not only established itself in the state, but also captured national and international markets. Two multinationals operating in the state have also established an organisational network by selecting contact dairy farmers. These companies help their contact farmers through various services, supplies and an efficient procurement system.
Dairy farming should be developed on the cluster dairy farm model. In this model selected clusters should have at least 10 dairy farms with 10 or more cross-bred cows each, thus producing at least 100 litres of milk per farm and 1,000 litres per cluster. A milk chilling centre can be established for each cluster. These clusters have to be the pivot and focal points for providing training, feed, health cover, artificial insemination services, etc.
There in no chance of a
market glut in the near future for milk. Milk and milk products can
easily be exported, but the success will depend upon the organised
efforts through cooperatives and private companies. It is only the
organised sector that can face the challenges of the world market. The
services provided by Milkfed and multinational companies have proved
that dairying is a very successful and remunerative enterprise. Efforts
must be made to improve the working of and strengthening the cooperative
clean that needle
Proper diagnosis and effective therapy are the vitals of successful veterinary practice. New animal health technologies can play a crucial role in producing and maintaining healthy livestock. However, the degraded condition of our veterinary dispensaries only means inadequate veterinary services, especially at the village level. This warrants active monitoring by the state animal husbandry departments (AHD).
Most of the veterinary facilities are manned by veterinary pharmacists (VP) who do not possess proper qualifications for practice. While the regulations framed by veterinary councils do not allow VPs to practice independently, AHDs are violating the norms by allowing them to man veterinary dispensaries.
Modern diagnostic apparatus, safe and specific antibiotics, synthetic hormones, latest surgical equipment and improved vaccines are some of the advances that have not reached veterinary dispensaries, at least in rural areas. Let us examine some of the deficiencies of our veterinary services:
Unsterilised needles: Veterinarians are "famous" for using unsterilised equipment, especially syringes and needles. The use of disposable syringes, needles and intravenous sets is yet to be introduced — syringes are used for months on end and needles are seldom sterilised. Para-veterinary staff are also known to administer unnecessary injections to sick animals. This is due to poor diagnostic facilities and consequent treatment by the hit-and-trial method. This is unfair to animals as well their owners in the scientifically advanced era. Veterinarians also use needles of improper bore and thickness. One I/V set may be used for months together. The extensive use of certain injections through the intra-mascular (I/M) route for the treatment of various infections is also unacceptable. The prick of oxytetracyclin through the I/M route causes twisting pain and irritation. The persistence of the drug at the spot of injection is so agonising that not more than 10 ml of the injection is advised at one spot. The normal daily doses vary from 30 to 60 ml per day per animal.
Indiscriminate breeding: Cross-breeding, a tool to improve livestock quality and milk production, depends on artificial insemination (AI) of local cows with the semen of bulls of high genetic potential. The entire effort rests on insemination, the success of which is dependent on well-equipped semen banks, liquid nitrogen plants, trained inseminators and well-awarded dairy owners. The proficiency of one and the failure of any other can render futile the effort to attain the cherished conception rate. For the past several years, such cattle projects are not being monitored in the required manner and a messy situation has emerged. The liquid nitrogen necessary for maintaining the cold chain from semen production to insemination (storage temperature) is not being satisfactorily produced, arranged and distributed to the insemination units. The inseminators are not fully trained to achieve the desired results. There is chaos and nobody can check whether the semen of a sire is being used for inseminating its own daughter heifer/cow. There is no check on inbreeding; the cross-breeding level of a gene pool and conserving the indigenous pool have never been a priority for the AHDs.
Disease control: It is mandatory for the AHD to immunise the whole livestock against contagious diseases well in advance of the expected season of the outbreak of various diseases. The outbreak of a disease can be considered a result of laxity on the part of the veterinarian concerned as well as the monitoring structure of the AHD. However, at times there are reasonable explanations for such outbreaks — lack of proper storage for the vaccines (2° to 8° celsius) and the non-availability of vaccines in sufficient quantity during the months when prophylactic vaccination is required to be done. Animals are rarely dewormed before vaccination, which is a must for the production of anti-bodies. During outbreaks, thousands of vaccinated animals, too, get the disease. It is due to irresponsible vaccinators who are not cold-chain conscious. Foot and mouth disease and hemorrhagic septicemia will always hover over animals if the present set-up is allowed to continue.
The search for new methods of pest control is a continuous process. Soil solarisation is one such. The idea was based on observation by extension workers in the Jordan Valley who noticed the intensive heating of plastic mulched soil. Solarisation heating approach for soil disinfection was developed, which was later termed as soil solarisation.
This involves mulching of soil with clear plastic films so as to trap solar heat in the surface soil. The resultant temperature increase is lethal to soil inhabiting pathogens, nematodes and weed seeds. The purpose is to trap solar radiation — hence, transparent films are more efficient than black films. Thinner films (19-25 micrometre) are more efficient and are less expensive. Smooth and even surface is important as heating of soil is best when the plastic film is close to soil with minimum air space. Moist soil irrigated before mulching increases the thermal sensitivity of soil-borne micro flora and fauna as well as heat transfer in soil.
The technique is practical in the warm months with the sheet in place for as long as practical. A duration of 4-6 weeks is adequate.
Soil-borne pathogens are more difficult to control than the foliar pathogens because of the complex soil-ecosystem, but solarisation is very effective to eradicate the propagules of soil-borne fungi like Fusarium, Pythium, Verticillium, etc. Solarisation of a mere 10 days gives complete control of Phalaris minor and Avena ludoviciana — the most dominant grassy weeds in winter. The technique is also reported to enhance availability of nutrients in soil and favour beneficial microflora.
Soil solarisation also has limitations and difficulties. It can only be used in regions where the climate is suitable and land is free of crops for about a month or more at the time of mulching. Another major constraint is the high cost of plastic film. Its immediate application is more promising in nursery area and in high-value crops like vegetables, floriculture, etc.— Rajbir Singh
Fodder locusts hate
Farmers in North China’s Hebei province have succeeded in fighting locusts by growing clover, a fodder plant disliked by grasshoppers.
Clover is what grasshoppers don’t like to eat. The drought-resistant plant, which can grow in saline-alkali land, is of considerable value to farmers, says a report.
In Huanghua city, which has been plagued by locusts for centuries, farmers have increased the area under clover since 1997. This has helped reduce the number of the pests in the city.
Currently, local farmers grow some 19,800 acres of clover and earn US $ 870 each annually by selling the plant.
Farm operations for August
Cauliflower: Sow 250 g seed of mid-season varieties like Punjab 26 and Giant Snow Ball in one marla bed area. Irrigate the nursery beds with a watering can daily in the beginning and thrice a week thereafter. Treat the seed with 3 g Captan or Thiram per kg of seed before sowing.
Root crops: From the last week of August, start sowing Asiatic (desi) varieties of radish (Pusa Chetki and Punjab Ageti), Carrot (No.29) and Turnip (4-white). Before sowing, add 50 kg CAN, 155 kg superphosphate, 40 kg muriate of potash per acre. Prepare ridges 45 cm apart, dribble seed in fully moist conditions. Thereafter, apply light irrigation twice a week. Use 4 kg seed of radish, 5-6 kg seed of carrot and 2 kg seed of turnip to sow an acre.
Chilli: Apply second dose of 12.5 kg N (50 kg CAN) per acre to the standing crop of chilli and irrigate. Pluck red ripe fruit once a fortnight to minimise shedding in the fields. Fully developed green fruit may be plucked for use as salad and pickle.
— For control of fruit rot, spray the crop with 750 g of Indofil M 45 or Blitox in 250 litres of water per acre at 10 days’ interval.
Bhindi and brinjal: Spray 100 ml Sumicidin 20 EC or 40 ml Ambush 50 EC or 200 ml Ripcord 10 EC or 160 ml Decis 2.8 EC or 800 ml Ekalux 25 EC or 550 ml Monocil 36 SL or 350 ml Hostathion 40 EC in 100-125 litres of water against fruit and shot borer of brinjal.
— In brinjal, spider mite attack can be minimised by spraying 250 ml of Metasystox 25 EC or Rogor 30 EC in 150 litres of water.
— The attack of jassid and fruit borer on bhindi can be reduced by spraying 500 ml of Malathion 50 EC or 250 ml Rogor 30 EC and 425 ml Sumithion/ Foli-thion/ Accothion 50 EC or 400 ml Nuva-cron 36 SL or 100 ml Sumicidin 20 EC or 80 ml Cymbush 25 EC or 160 ml Decis 2.8 EC in 100-125 litres of water.
Onion: From third week of August start planting kharif onion crop both with bulbsets as well as seedlings. Apply 25 kg urea, 155 kg superphosphate and 30 kg muriate of potash per acre before planting.
Transplant seedlings at 15 x 10 cm distance and irrigate the field immediately after transplanting. Two to three days after planting, spray Stomp 30 EC @ one litre per acre in 200 litres of water to control weeds.