: A recent study conducted by an evaluation team to asses the implementation of a special livestock scheme (Vidharbha package) of the State government for the farmers of suicide-hit districts in the State revealed that the package could help to improve the social and economic status of the farming community.
The package was implemented through the Animal Husbandry Department from 2006 to 2009 fiscal for the debt-ridden farmers in Palakkad, Wayanad and Kasaragod districts with the financial assistance of the Central government.
The package, estimated to cost Rs. 44.74 crore, envisaged ensuring alternative means of sustenance to farmers, regular income to their family and support to those farmers whose agricultural operations had failed.
The comprehensive package consists of induction of cattle, supply of feed, insurance coverage, medicines, artificial insemination and calf rearing . As many as 8,992 cows were purchased under the package and each dairy unit with two cows were distributed to as many as 4,496 families.
The findings based on a sample survey revealed that the scheme had paved the way for achieving livelihood security for the farmers of all the three districts, S. Ramkumar, chairman of the team told The Hindu.
Beneficiaries had benefited in terms of asset status, better standard of living, educational status, food security and income level, which reflects the success of the scheme in achieving the
envisaged objectives, Dr. Ramkumar added.
There was substantial improvement in the knowledge level of the farmers. Low suicide rates were evident from press reports and health authority records, T.P. Sethumadhavan, convener of the team said.
Most of the respondents’ nutritional status was satisfactory and the educational status in the household had improved significantly and many a farmer had adopted dairying for getting sustainable income, Dr. .Sethumadhavan, who is also the Director of Entrepreneurship, Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, added.