Though cross-bred cows have their own importance in the dairy sector, but Punjab's main dairy animal still remains buffalo, not cow. However, the breed of buffaloes is of low quality that leads to low milk yield. Lactating time of the animal in a year is also only eight months. This means, for high milk yield, better quality of semen was the pre-requisite under the artificial insemination (AI) programme for bufflaoes.
These are the findings of a study conducted by the Chandigarh-based Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID), which was asked by the Punjab State Farmers Commission (PSFC) to study the role and performance of the "Buffalo development centres aimed at breed improvement through AI."The study mainly stressed the need to improve both 'quantity and quality' of buffalo milk to enhance income of dairy owners.
Titled 'Impact assessment of the buffalo breed improvement and management programme', the study was conducted by professor and coordinator-cum-administrator of programme in south and central Asia at CRRID, Sucha Singh Gill, with experts Sukhwinder Singh and Mehar Singh.
The programme of 'Integrated buffalo development centres' (IBDC) is being carried out in 12 districts falling in border, Kandi, trans-Ghaggar and water-logged regions, where these centres have been set up. NGO Baif and JK Trust has been engaged in the buffalo improvement programme.
For the study, six districts including Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr, Muktsar and Patiala were selected.
The Punjab Milkfed had implemented a pilot project for 'enhancing income level of small farmers and rural landless workers' by improving the breed and the milk yield of buffaloes under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana-2010. The Milkfed had set up 200 IBDCs, each of which has been providing AI services to a cluster of seven to eight villages at the door-step of farmers since 2011.
In the study in six districts, it was found that 43% dairy units had 3-5 adult buffaloes and about 23% just 1 or 2 animals. More than 91% of dairy units in the surveyed households had one to 10 adult buffaloes.
Till date 4,45,781 artificial inseminations have been done by IBDCs. Most of dairy farmers are in remote areas but were happy with the AI services being provided at their doorsteps.
The study observed that a farmer earned Rs 90-100 per animal per day.
It was also found during the survey that one or more animals in some cases of 50% farmers are affected with infertility. Between October 2010 and March 2015, as many as 1,71,818 buffalo calves were added to the live stock; out of which 50% were female calves.
Talking to HT Sucha Singh Gill said, "To get better results in dairy farming more awareness camps should be organised and young educated youth should be motivated for the dairy sector." More interaction is required at the village and block levels to motivate landless villagers to go in for dairying. It's time to extend this programme to those areas, which are untouched, he added.
Occupational structure of dairy farmers
Landless workers 12.3%
Age structure of dairy farmers
18-40 years 27.60%
40-60 years 53.90%
More than 60 years 18.50%
Under matriculation 31.10%
Matriculates to high secondary 48.20%
Graduate and above 4.70%
Main knowledge source of dairy farming
Parents and relatives 72.60%
Friends and co-villagers 12.10%
Dairy development department 8.30%
Animal husbandry department 3.60%
TV and newspaper 2.60%
1 to 5 acres 38.90%
5 to 10 acres 27.40%
10 to 25 acres 25.9%
More than 25 acres 7.80%
Status of training in dairy farming
COST OF AI Rs 50
Hoshiarpur tops with 30% in schedule caste category in dairy farming.
Amritsar tops with 94.6% of dairy farmers in general category.