Mumbai: Britannia Industries’ Dairy Farmer Welfare programme is enabling farmers in Maharashtra to improve their economic status through increased cattle productivity and incomes. The Dairy Farmer Welfare programme was conceived with the objective of inculcating sustainable agricultural practices in line with the Government’s National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture to make agriculture more productive, remunerative and climate-resilient. The programme builds the capacity of dairy farmers by helping them generate higher productivity of their cattle, leading to enhanced incomes while improving nutritional security for milk consumers.
The holistic programme provides advisory to farmers by helping them produce high-quality milk in a clean and hygienic environment at significantly reduced costs. The programme leverages technology through an app to enable dairy farmers to track their milk supplies and payments, apart from helping them monitor the performance of the cattle. The real-time information and customised knowledge have enhanced the ability of farmers to take decisions and align their cattle output with market demand and secure quality and productivity. Today, this capacity-building programme has scaled up to 54 milk collection centres in Maharashtra with a cumulative volume of 53,000 litres/day, benefitting over 2,500 farmers.
Varun Berry, Managing Director, Britannia Industries said, ‘Britannia, as a responsible corporate citizen shares the responsibility to create value for our stakeholders and sustainable sourcing is a key element of our promise. The Dairy Farmer Welfare Programme helps farmers gain knowledge and skills to unlock their potential by enabling higher productivity, better margins and increased incomes while promoting best practices aligned with the government’s vision to promote a sustainable agriculture sector. Britannia will also be implementing various developmental schemes to ensure farmers’ prosperity and welfare while mitigating their risks.”
The Dairy Farmer Welfare Programme for milk procurement was launched in 2017 targeting 3 villages near Ranjangaon in Maharashtra and engaged with 120 farmers to procure 2,100 litres of milk, every day. The farmers were faced with financial losses due to the prevalence of Mastitis (bacterial infection), resulting in deterioration of udder health leading to low quality of milk and less yield. Farmers had to spend up to Rs 3, 000 – 5,000 per cow on allopathic medication. This was further exacerbated with tied cattle housing, poor cattle nutrition and improper pregnancy care, which led to decreased milk yield and substantial financial losses.
Britannia Industries embarked on a mass farmer contact program to educate farmers about the best animal husbandry practices. Farmers were educated about the benefits of loose cattle housing in which animals are kept loose throughout the day and night, except at the time of milking. The freedom to roam freely and get optimum exercise prevented and reduced the incidence of lameness in cattle, reduced instances of mastitis and increased the yields. Over the last two years, loose housing has grown five times to 400 units. The training was provided to farmers on the prevention of Mastitis and early detection, along with the use of ethnoveterinary medicines that provided low-cost alternatives to allopathic drugs.
Farmers were also taught to make silage through available resources such as maize, sorghum, napier, bajra and sugarcane tops. This reduced the cost of silage production by Rs. 3.0 – 3.5 per kg, as against the external procurement price of Rs 6.5 – 7 per kg. This has resulted in better utilisation of land for farmers, especially those with lesser landholding and has increased output of fodder crops, besides providing better nutrition to cattle.
The programme ensures that cattle are dewormed and given calcium and mineral supplements. Under the aegis of Project Kamadhenu, farmers were educated about the best calf rearing practices, that helped reduce high incidence of mortality, and enabled weight gain of calves up to 800 grams per day compared to 300 gms per day, before the interventions. In addition, the Heifer management program helped in better reproductive management and ensured better performance of the breeding herd.