Project will benefit small, marginal farmers and landless households
Small landholdings may no longer be a constraint for dairy farmers in the State.
The Department of Animal Husbandry is preparing to establish a network of collective dairy farms across the State, under plans to promote dairying as a shared activity by small and marginal farmers and rural landless families.
The project to be implemented by the Kerala Livestock Development Board (KLDB) seeks to set up six model collective dairy farms in the first phase at a cost of Rs.240 lakh.
Clean milk production
Each farm will be run by a group of 10 women trained in dairy farm management and clean milk production. The farms will be established on one acre provided by each panchayat.
Minister for Animal Husbandry K.P. Mohanan said the project was part of a three-pronged strategy aimed at boosting the rural economy, empowering women, and enhancing milk production. He said it would be taken up under the Niravu scheme, with funds from the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).
The collective farms will be based on the concept of building ‘hostels’ for cows. The KLDB will construct the entire infrastructure required for the farms.
“The model has been conceived to help farmers achieve economies of scale through collective activities and establish a better management system. It is also expected to improve the quality of livestock,” says Ani S.Das, Managing Director, KLDB.
Each farm will have a capacity to house 20 animals. It will be equipped with milking machine and other dairy farm equipment.
The beneficiaries will be selected by a committee from the residents in the vicinity of the farm. Each member will be given two animals. The group members will share the expense involved in running the dairy farm and the income.
A monitoring committee, chaired by the local MLA, will be in charge of the farm. “The project is expected to be a boon for landless dairy farmers. The advantage of the system is that farmers get the chance to maintain their animals better. The KLDB will provide technical assistance, including feeding practices, infertility treatment, veterinary support, and calf care,” says Dr. Das.
“Over time, dairy farmers in the neighbourhood of the model farms will be encouraged to adopt these scientific management practices.”
The calves supplied to the farmers under the scheme will be scientifically bred by the KLDB using imported semen of Holstein Friesian and Jersey bulls.
“The aim is to develop a generation of cows with high production potential and adaptability to our climate and management systems, thereby improving the total milk production in Kerala,” said Dr. Das.
By selling calves and organic manure from cow dung, farmers can augment the revenue from milk.
The project also envisages production of fodder and silage (green fodder fermented for preservation).
“It is a logical extension of the hi-tech mother farm established at Kulathupuzha one year back”, Dr.Das says.
The Minister said collective farms would be set up throughout the State if the pilot project turned out to be successful.