ICRISAT-HOPE project interventions boost milk production in Maharashtra, India
Fodder shortages prevent many of the poorest farmers in rural Maharashtra, India from building better livelihoods, especially during droughts. Growing dual-purpose postrainy season sorghum in the State has recently provided smallholder farmers with higher grain yields and better fodder quantity and quality, helping mitigate fodder scarcity and generating increased income from dairy farming.
This was the highlight of a
recent survey of the ICRISAT-led HOPE project sites in the State, where livestock is an integral component of the food, nutrition and income security of smallholder farmers. Postrainy season sorghum stover
is the main, and most of the time, the only source of animal feed in drought-affected Marathwada and Western Maharashtra regions of rural Maharashtra State in India.
Since 2009, the HOPE project has been promoting ways to increase agricultural production, improve household food security, and alleviate poverty through better integration of crop and livestock production. In Maharashtra, the project focuses on enhancing grain and stover yields in postrainy sorghum farmers’ fields. It is being implemented in six clusters in six districts where small-scale dairy units (of up to 10 animals) are quite popular and where sorghum stover is an important component of the daily animal ration.
Since 2010, the availability of seeds of improved sorghum varieties along with production
technology disseminated under the project has helped to substantially increase grain and dry fodder in the project areas. The seeds are maintained by formal and informal seed systems in various sorghum growing regions. Sorghum cultivars like Parbhani Moti, Phule Vasudha andAkola Kranti are highly preferred for their grain and dry fodder yields which are two to three times higher than that from local varieties grown using farmers’ practices.
Mr Ganeshdada Jagdale of Mahajanwadi village in Beed district and Mr Ganesh Giri of Wakulni in Jalna district are two of the many farmers whose lives have been impacted by the project’s activities. Farmers like them who at one time owned just one or two dairy animals (cows or buffalos), have increased their herds to 20-25 with greater fodder availability in the last three years.
Mr Jagdale’s interest in dairying began when he bought a high milk-producing Jersey cow and constructed an improved cattle shed. Along with it, he provided facilities for milking, milk storage and transportation to the market. Today, he supplies 250-300 liters of milk every
day to nearby Beed. In addition to providing him a steady source of income, the dairy provides full time employment to all his family members.
Mr Giri owns 20 buffalo which produce 250 liters of milk a day. The milk is packed in polythene bags and sold in Aurangabad city. Says Mr Giri, “The use of postrainy sorghum fodder has increased milk yield by 1 to 1.5 liters per buffalo in comparison to the use of fodder from maize and pearl millet.”
Proper management of small-scale dairy units supported by increased supply of quality fodder has led to enhanced milk production in rural Maharashtra. This has encouraged many small-scale farmers, particularly women, to keep at least one cow to meet the family’s milk needs and to serve as an additional income source.
The project has also been training dairy farmers in primary processing of dry fodder by using a hand- or machine-operated chaff cutter. In fact, with greater fodder availability in the region, Vanrai, a nongovernment organization has freely given away hand-operated chaff cutters to dairy farmers in Wahegaon village in Jalna district.
The HOPE project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is being carried out
under the CGIAR Research Program on DrylandCereals led by ICRISAT, with Indian partners, the
Marathwada Krishi Vidyapeeth and Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth in Maharashtra State.