India should embrace dry dairy model to end illegal cow slaughter, benefit rural economies
Cows and bovines in general are the most contentious animals in India. Groups linked to Hinduism are spiritually and sentimentally connected with the cow and its progeny while for others the animal is best used for milk, meat and leather. The problem with the argument on both sides is that neither is based on science, environmental research or the animal rights, argument that here is an animal that, at the end of her milk giving years is rewarded with slaughter.
The tragedy of the situation is that in the middle of these two factions, the conditions of bovines in India remains deplorable. The reality these animals face is grim; they are kept in dairies for most of their lives. These dairies afford the animals little room to move, they are artificially inseminated by untrained individuals, have their calves taken away from them within minutes of being born and when they no longer give milk, proceed for slaughter. There are also those who are abandoned on the streets and live off the charity of vegetable vendors or forage out of garbage. Stray cattle, as every urban Indian knows, constitute a huge nuisance for municipal authorities. The Indian Council for Agricultural Research has a composite solution to the entire issue by way of setting up dry dairies which provide an earned retirement for the animals, livelihoods in the rural sector, opportunity for creation and collection of biogas and vermin-compost. However, these are not in use even in BJP-ruled states.
The life of a dairy animal
Most people believe erroneously that bovines continuously “give” milk. Bovines like all mammals, lactate when they have an offspring. This is the reason why most bovines are continuously impregnated. A cow/buffalo is impregnated and carries the calf for nine months. Within two-three short months of the birth of the calf, the cow/buffalo is impregnated again. This impregnation is done by artificial insemination which is a major veterinary intervention into a vital organ. Unqualified and ill-trained livestock supervisors insert their bare hands into a cows/buffaloes uterus. This gives the animal infections, severe pain and cramps. The cow/buffalo is lactating through her entire pregnancy and the milk is collected and used for human consumption. To let the milk down, dairy owners give the animals a daily injection of oxytocin – a hormone which causes labour pains and the milk begins to flow. Oxytocin is a hormone and has an irreversible and severe impact on the animal as well as on humans if administered without a medical reason. Most calves are useless to the dairy industry and discarded for slaughter. Sometimes the young calf perishes within a few hours of being separated from the mother. To make use of the dead body, the head of the calf is severed and kept in front of the lactating cow or buffalo so that the animal continues to lactate. Dairy animals are not given space to move and stand in the same space for the four to five years that they are able to give milk. Once they stop lactating enough to make them economically viable to the industry, they are sent for slaughter.
Dry dairies – A solution
Cows, buffaloes and bulls are extremely useful for India’s agrarian economy. They have tremendous ecological and economical value while alive. If sent for slaughter, it is only the butcher and exporter who make money out of these animals. Since most of the slaughter is illegal, the proceeds generally go into funding criminal activities. This is well documented and has been discussed at several credible forums including the Observer Research Foundation. If kept alive and used for production of vermicompost and biogas, the entire village economy stands to gain. This concept has been articulated recently by the Indian Council for Agricultural Research in its report, ‘Dry Dairy Units – Management and Utilization of Unproductive Cattle of India’. India has the second largest cattle population in the world. According to the last Livestock Census conducted in 2012, India possesses a total of 190 million cattle. This same census has shown that 5.29 million cattle are stray and live on the streets.
The concept of dry dairy farming uses traditional methodologies for composting cow dung into manure, creation of biogas, preparation of biopesticides from cow urine and other innovative ecological initiatives. This module presents India with an opportunity to be the world’s first organic nation. It benefits society via skill development, employment, the availability of organic manure and green energy. It helps the animals by providing them with an earned retirement. It is essentially a win-win solution for all stakeholders. Dry dairies are spaces where bovines who can no longer lactate enough and male calves can be kept, given a sustenance diet and they can fuel the village, its fertilizer requirement and take India towards an organic future. It involves the creation of biogas plants and vermicompost pits to make sure that the energy requirements and fertilizer needs are sustainably met. It is a futuristic and scientific solution rooted in our culture. The dry dairy model presents an innovative solution in which the state and the animals greatly benefit.
Many states in India are currently facing drought-like situations, namely Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Haryana and Chhattisgarh. The utilisation of chemical fertilizers on these lands only exacerbates the problems faced by the farmers as these chemicals dry the land and make farming in the future much harder. The chemical fertiliser industry is worth over Rs 70,000 crores and stands to be hit by this model. Vermicompost is sold for Rs 200 to Rs 500 for 10 kgs — this price can be brought down hugely and it can be made available to the average farmer. Much like Sikkim, every state can go organic. Much can be said about the health benefits to the average citizen who today for lack of options consumes food that has been grown with chemical fertilisers.
Our reliance on fossil fuels is causing huge environmental degradation. The case against fossil fuels has been tried and won and yet fossil fuels are in rampant use. In India, there is tremendous potential for biogas utilisation. The dry dairy report estimates that based on the availability of dung from 304 million cattle in India, over 18,240 million cubic meter of biogas can be generated annually. This biogas generation can fuel street lights or gas cylinders of entire villages.
This must not be left to non-government organisations or gaushalas who are underfunded and not as well organised as the government to achieve. The only way to sustainably connect bovines to organic farming and prevent illegal slaughter and smuggling of cows is for the government to make ‘cattle camps’ based on the dry dairy model, for every cluster of villages. These cattle camps can sell their produce to the department of agriculture at a minimum support price and use a part of the proceeds to feed the animals and for maintenance of these camps. Unless the dry dairy model is institutionalised, it will be near impossible to provide vermicompost, biogas and prevent illegal slaughter and smuggling of animals no matter how noble the government thinks their intentions are.
Will the government act or is cow protection just for the appeasement of a vote bank as many critics and analysts fear?
When industries that pollute have been held accountable for the pollution that they cause by the Supreme Court by way of the “polluter pays” principle, why should the dairy industry be allowed to go scot-free and not take ownership for the male calves and cows/buffaloes once they have outlived their utility? BJP-led governments have recently imposed more stringent Animal Preservation/Cow Protection Acts in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Haryana. Most states in India have a prohibition on the slaughter of cows and bullocks but no state has a plan for what can be done with these animals when they are no longer useful to the dairy industry. The dry dairy model has offered a solution with potential now and it remains to be seen whether states take this seriously and actually implement it to benefit village economies at scale.
COW BASED AGRICULTURE IN BRAJ
Whole wold has now recognised the medicinal,agricultural and economic value of cows. Cow is the only animal in the wotld whose milk,dung and urine all have great value for mankind. There is nothiong emotional or eligious about it. It is pur science based on experience. Unfortunately Braj-the land of Gopal ( protector of cows) is deprived of cows because more and more people are patronising buffalos due to their milk giving capcaity. Bulls have been replaced by tractors hence they are brutally assaulted if they try to graze in fields. Butchers are stealing Gaudhan of Braj and killing them for meat.Barring a few most of the charitable Gaushalas do not give very encouraging picture about cow care. When he came to Braj Mahatma Gandhi,a vaishnav by family tradition, was shocked to see the plight of cows here.Yet no one has done enough for cows.
Braj Foundation’s philosphy about cow care
Till we re-establish the economic viability of Desi Cows, we will not be able to protect them. There is enough research and knowledge available about this subject that one does not need to run for it. We need to focus on two areas;
- Providing free fodder for cows in the homes of poor Brajwasis and to the Gaushalas.
- Changing our agriculture from diesal / tractor / pesticides / fertilisers to organic or natural farming
Foundation has made some headway in this direction. We have conducted many workshops in the villages of Braj to educate the Brajhwasis on natural farming methods.
Natural farming expert Dr B B Tyagi ji giving workshop to the Brajwasis
Our inspiration Shri Ramesh Baba has established the biggest Gaushala in Braj at Barsana, which has more than 15000 dry cows. This project is being supported by NRIs.
We at the Braj-Foundation have concrete plans to provide free fodder to other gaushals by cultivating the same in the villages. We are looking for the sponsor for this project so that we can recruit right kind of dedicated people to run this campaign.
For more information on cows you may read the following article ;
Holy cow – Acclaimed abroad, despised at home
-By Devinder Sharma
For years we were made to believe that Indian cows are unproductive. They give less milk and therefore are a drain on farming. The entire focus has therefore been to crossbreed with the exotic high-yielding milk cattle from abroad.
For a nation, which has rarely been proud of its natural assets, expecting the holy cows to be scientifically and technically revered was certainly out of question. While India refused to acknowledge the distinct and superior traits of its indigenous cattle breeds, and in fact derided all efforts to develop the production potential of its own local cattle breeds, another developing country saw the virtues of the Indian cattle breeds and has over the years emerged as the major supplier of semen and embryos of high-yielding milk cattle breeds. These improved cattle breeds actually originated from India.
It was in the 1960s that Brazil imported three cattle breeds from India – Gir and Kankrej from Gujarat, and Ongole from Andhra Pradesh. These were essentially imported for beefing up its meat exports. It was only when these breeds landed in Brazil that they found them to be also a good source for milk production. In a recent FAO publication on traditional knowledge, it has been observed that what was (and is still) considered a ‘waste’ in India, has turned out to be a great economic wealth for Brazil.
Brazil has in recent years emerged as the world’s biggest supplier of improved cattle embryos and semen of Indian origin – now rated amongst the best dairy breeds in the world. The demand for Indian breeds is particularly high from the African and Southeast Asian countries. Suitable for the tropical conditions, these countries find the improved cattle germplasm to be ideal for their cattle breeding programmes. If only Indian dairy and animal scientists had not ignored the domestic cattle breeds, the fate of the Indian cows would have been much different – these holy cows would have then been truly revered.
Believe it or not, the world’s best Gir cows today give 5500 litres of milk on an average per lactation. Compare these with the neglected cousin back home, which do not yield more than 980 litres, the Brazilian Gir yield roughly six times more. And that’s not the maximum limit, milk yields as high as 9000 litres per lactation have been recorded in Brazil. Imagine the Indian Gir breed giving that much of milk. The fate of the Indian cattle would have undergone a dramatic change for the better.
In India, where agriculture research and education has been more or less westernised after the advent of the land grant system of education, agriculture scientists considered it worthless to work on the native breeds. Cattle improvement realised on the sole methodology of bringing in alien breeds of Jersey and Holstein-Friesen and using them in a nation-wide crossbreeding programme to improve the domestic milk production capacity.
The imported Jersey purebreds, which were used extensively for improving milk production in Indian breeds, on an average produce 3,000 to 5,000 litres in a lactation year. On the other hand, the resulting Jersey crossbreds that were born do not give more than 2500 to 3000 litres. Imagine if the country has instead gone in for developing its own indigenous breeds yielding almost double than the crossbreds, India’s milk production would have surpassed all global records.
Indiscriminate crossbreeding of Indian cattle with the exotic breeds under the Intensive Cattle Breeding Programme (ICDP) has already rendered more than 80 per cent of the Indian cattle in the non-descript category. In a country, which has the largest population of cattle in the world, and some 30 recognised breeds of cattle, genetic contamination had taken its toll. More than a dozen of the Indian cattle breeds have almost disappeared.
So much so that some years back, Oman made an unusual request to India. The oil-rich Middle East country was looking for four purebred animals of the cattle breed – Tharparkar — found only in the dry and arid regions of Rajasthan. Tharparkar derives its name from its unique genetic ability that enables the animal to walk across the massive desert of Thar in Rajasthan. It took us several years to procure four genetically pure Tharparkar bulls.
While India ignored the strength and capabilities of its domestic cattle, Brazil realised the unique genetic potential of Indian breeds. It has meanwhile developed a number of commercially important crossbreds: Girolando, a dual purpose cattle for beef and milk and Zeboain, developed from crossing Kankrej and Ongol. A breed evolved for meat, and currently being developed for milk is Nellore. Another breed Indo-Gujarat is a genetic mixture.
In Minas province, a research company, EPAMIG, has produced 50 dairy cows recording 10,000 litres per 307 days of milk period. These high-yielding cows are being used for embryo collection, fetching US $ 220 per embryo. Semen from the progeny bulls of this breed fetches US $ 11 a dose.
Not only in Brazil, animal genetic wealth from India has been the building block of numerous improved breeds all over the world. Take poultry, a rare Indian breed – Brahma — is among the parents of modern broilers. The development of Anglo-Nubian breeds of goat in Europe is traced back to Jamnapari breed from India. In the case of buffaloes, some of the best breeds available world over are from India.
And yet, India has been regularly sending official missions to scout for improved breeds of sheep, horses, rabbits, poultry and you name it. The accepted logic being that India’s own domestic breeds are unproductive and importing exotic breeds is the only practical way to improve productivity. The same reasoning also extends to plant varieties and the traditional medicinal systems. While the production potential of high-yielding crop varieties is often exaggerated, there is not even a single official research programme to identify and improve the traditional and locally adaptable crop varieties.
It is primarily because of our inability to appreciate the genetic wealth existing in our backyard that much of it has already been taken and deposited in the plant and animal repositories in Europe, United States, Japan and Australia.
COW, AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SECURITY
From time immemorial, India has been an agrarian country and the cow has been the backbone of our agriculture. When fertilizers and tractors were unknown, cow was the only source sustaining the entire agriculture. Agriculture would not have been possible without cows.
Food security is most important for every country. Every country must reduce its dependence on external sources for its basic need- food. An important part of food security is that all the inputs should be locally available and cheap. Only a cow can ensure this. The entire agricultural inputs are provided by the cow. Bull power ensures ploughing and transportation. Absolutely no dependence on any external source. Consider a scenario where due to a natural calamity or international strife, oil cannot be imported for one month. There will be absolute chaos in all spheres. While we can survive the impact on other sectors, can we afford a failure in agriculture? We cannot afford to miss an agricultural season. The entire agricultural operations will come to a stand still and the food prices will soar leading to civil strife.
During the last several decades, especially after green revolution, the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and tractors have dealt a severe blow to the importance of cows in agriculture. While productivity levels improved in the short term with their use, their long term negative impact on health and environment has totally been ignored. In fact most of the diseases of today are being traced to the food we consume and fertilizers and pesticides are the major culprits. The cost of production has also gone up substantially due to the increase in the cost of farm inputs leading to higher food prices. The indiscriminate use of pesticides has also broken the food chain and hence contributed to most of the current problems faced in agriculture today. Research has also proved that these high productivity levels cannot be sustained over a long term as the soil quality deteriorates due to rampant use of fertilizers and pesticides. Once the fossil fuels ( petrol and diesel ) get exhausted or become very expensive, most of the mechanized farm equipment will not be of any use .
In short, these modern farming techniques have only contributed to
a. Increased vulnerability and dependence on external sources
b. degradation of environment and soil quality
c. increase in diseases and
d. increase in profits of fertilizer and pesticide companies.
Almost 2 lac crores is annual fertilizer subsidy bill.
In contrast, cow is the base of economic sustainable agriculture with only positive impact on environment. With only a pair of bulls and a cow, using natural farming techniques, upto ten acres of land can be cultivated for healthy organic produce. Using Gomaya and Gomutra, all the necessary inputs can be made including organic pest repellants. These techniques have been perfected and have been in vogue for several centuries. The cost of inputs is very low leading to lower food prices.
For some, going back to traditional farming methods may appear to be a retrograde step and impractical. Consider the following
- Fossil fuels are definitely running out. Definitely they will get expensive. Even today, if diesel or the tractor or the harvester is not available, work stops. There is no fall back option. A lot of small farmers are losing money because of delays in getting the equipments.
- Tractors do not give cow dung and urine- major agri inputs.
- Organic farming enriches the soil.
- Organic farming produces healthy and wholesome food.
- Organic farming is as productive, if not more, as the chemicals based farming.
- Organic farming reduces the input cost.
- Organic farming reduces diseases and medical costs.
- Organic farming improves quality of life.
- Traditional farming using the cow is the only option for small and marginal farmers who constitute a majority of the farmers in India.
- Organic farming will improve the economic well being of the farmers and stop farmer suicides.
- Once the development in sectors like roads and other infrastructure projects , which use most of the unskilled farm labour now, slow down, the farm labour will not have any other source of employment. In the mean time they will also lose their farming skills and knowledge.
India has been a land of surpluses in food grains and cow based agriculture has never failed us. It is time that we realize the contribution of cows and go back to our time tested traditional farming techniques for a sustainable future.
Traditional cow based organic farming is the solution for the future. However difficult it may appear, we must pursue this for the sake of our good future and food security. It is better we act now before we are forced to act.
It is important that we save the Indian cow for the sake of good health and food security.
How an engineer’s one-cow revolution is transforming Indian agriculture
“Invariably, the solutions to our problems lie right under our noses, yet we scramble to find them elsewhere,” says Chetan Raut, Founder of Cowism. The intriguingly named startup is less than two years old and aims to empower farmers to become self-reliant and financially independent by using traditional, farm-based agricultural solutions. It focuses on integrating commercially useful assets like native cattle into farming practices to improve soil fertility, lower input costs, and raise farmers’ profits.
Cowism’s focus is on promoting indigenous cattle farming in Maharashtra
An engineer by training, Raut hails from an agricultural family in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal district, and is well acquainted with the agrarian crisis sweeping through the region. He remembers feeling a gnawing urge to do something practical and impactful to improve the lot of farmers. Following his heart, Raut, then 23, began a year-long exploration of the agricultural belt of Maharashtra, from the disconsolate cotton growers of Vidarbha to their more prolific cousins in the Konkan.
“Agriculture is flourishing in western Maharashtra because integrated farming is practised there,” says Raut. Farmers dedicate small plots to food and fodder crops, which gives them alternate sources of nutrition and income. In Vidarbha, however, they had switched en masse to mono-cropping with cotton, a lucrative, quick-yielding cash crop. Mono-cropping reduces crop diversity, threatens farmers’ own food security, and leaves them financially vulnerable, at the mercy of the market. Crop failure or pest attacks can drive them to penury and starvation,” Raut points out.
He found that farmers rearing cattle saved substantially on input costs (chemical pesticides and fertilisers often make up as much as 60 percent of the total input cost) by using cow dung and urine to increase land fertility. Cows, besides providing nutrient-rich manure, also yielded a host of high-protein milk products to augment the nutrition of farming families. Most importantly, milch cattle offered a reliable, year-round source of income.
His experiences also left Raut convinced about the merits of indigenous cattle. “Hybrid cows don’t fare well in Vidarbha’s harsh climate, its lack of pastures, and crops that leave behind nothing as cattle feed,” he explains. Indigenous cows are not only hardier and better suited to the region, but are less expensive to feed and maintain. Milk from native cows, also known as A2 Beta Casein milk, is more nutritious, easier to digest, and better for immunity building as compared to more commonly available A1 milk.
Armed with such insights from the field, Raut enrolled in the Master’s programme in Social Entrepreneurship at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai to give shape to his ideas of change.
Grassroots solutions to raise agricultural incomes
At TISS, Raut developed the idea of Cowism to raise agricultural income and improve farmer security. Cowism, which started under the aegis of the Arunokalp Social Organisation for Rural Development (ASORD) in Chandrapur, Maharashtra, educates local farmers on the benefits of farming along with related activities like rearing indigenous cows. It advocates the application of natural pesticides and fertilisers like Jeevamrutha, which can be prepared on the farm using cow dung and urine, thus lowering input costs.
ASORD’s core activities include awareness-generation campaigns and free training programmes on sustainable agriculture for farmers, and operating an agricultural input and cow resource centre. On its own farm, the team prepares fertilisers and pesticides from the dung and urine of its own cattle, which is then distributed free of cost among farmers. “The idea is that once farmers see the value of using these organic inputs, they will begin to procure their own native cows and make these inputs independently.”
The third major emphasis of ASORD is the production and sale, at premium rates, of A2 milk in urban markets, the revenue from which funds its non-profit activities. At its milk collection centre, ASORD sells milk produced at its farm. It also supports farmers rearing native cows by procuring milk from them and marketing it through its supply chain. “This helps improve milk quality and fetches farmers better prices than if they were to sell it independently,” says Raut. The centre also freely distributes 10–20 litres of buttermilk a day to villages in the vicinity.
In late 2015, ASORD began developing model farms where it demonstrated to other farmers the feasibility of rearing native cows, multi-cropping, and organic farming with cow-based inputs. In the process, it is building farmers’ confidence and changing their attitudes to chemical-based agriculture.
Changing an age-old mentality is hard work
For all its transformative potential, Cowism does call for a major shift in farming behavior, thus witnessing rather sluggish results. “Farmers, with their countless hardships, are rightly cynical and apprehensive about any counsel, especially from an educated, urban-dwelling, non-farmer like myself,” Raut discloses. Those he approached in the early days of his Cowism, admitted they felt alone and abandoned in their struggle with the land once research and advisory teams dispensed advice and left.
It was then, to be a true ally of the farmer that Raut bid adieu to his big city life and returned to the village to be amidst the community he sought to empower. At a time when agriculture is witnessing an exodus to the cities, Raut’s education guided him back to his roots. “My education made me a better farmer,” he laughs. Currently, more than 100 farmers receive awareness-generation, training, and resource support from ASORD. About 150 families are customers of its A2 milk and more than 500 consumers have been educated about its benefits. In the coming year, the organisation plans to attain profitability and run operations on its own revenue. It aims to scale its reach to surrounding villages, add up to 300 farmers and 500 customers to its network, and up its milk production and procurement.
The crucial value of timely support
“Changing farmers’ mindsets is the slowest and most challenging part of our endeavour and DBS’ trust and early support was invaluable. More so it came at a time when the belief in our model was near zero everywhere,” recalls Raut, acknowledging the financial help the team received. Beginning in its pilot phase, through the social entrepreneurship incubation cell at TISS, the Cowism team received guidance from DBS on formulating its business plan and marketing. With DBS’ initial investment, the team was able to meet the cost of procuring and maintaining assets like cows and build the infrastructure necessary for operating its training and resource centres and experimentation facilities on its farm.
Raut’s is not a novel, technological solution. At its core, Cowism is about empowering farmers to become self-sufficient and financially independent by using traditional, locally available agricultural solutions. It is about recognising the reliable, commercial value of assets like cattle in improving soil fertility, lowering input costs, raising farm incomes, and enhancing the health of farming families. It is about changing the way agriculture is practised in India, one farmer at a time.
Cow based Indigenous Technologies in dry farming
Indigenous knowledge has two powerful advantages over scientific knowledge like it has little or no cost, and is readily available. Indigenous knowledge can be defined as the knowledge built up by a group of people through generations of living in close contact with nature1. Over the years, the farmer in India had been using cow dung and cow urine as manure in the fields. However, a lot of wastages occurred and also a good part of the dung collected was being dried and used as fuel-cakes. Cow dung and cow urine are used for preparation of composts used in organic farming. However, bulk of the recoverable animal waste in the country is in the form of cattle dung and urine, both excellent for use in organic manure because of their high nitrogen content and their easy availability in the rural areas. When the fertile agricultural land has lost its fertility and nutrients of the soil have been extracted and not replaced, to replenish such nutrients, cattle dung or organic manure in the best, cheapest, harmless and most easily available manure. Villagers have traditionally used cow dung cakes as a common fuel, along with firewood.
Indigenous knowledge is found to be socially desirable, economically affordable, sustainable and involve minimum risk to rural farmers and producers. The failure of modern chemical farming to deliver prosperity to agricultural communities, increase in pest attack of crops, deterioration of soil and water resources, cost to human, and animal health has forced scientists to seriously examine whether traditional practices of farmers have any answers to the problems of modern agriculture. Scientists accept that Indigenous practices of farmers have pointers for sustainable agriculture in future. Indigenous knowledge systems provide a frame of reference for strengthening agricultural extension programmes and this has led to reorganization of interventions made by extension personnel. Identifying, documenting and incorporating indigenous knowledge in agricultural extension organization is essential to achieve sustainable agricultural development. The study was taken up with the objective of documenting the indigenous knowledge followed by the farmers in dry tracts of Tamil Nadu.
The study was conducted in dry western zone of Tamil Nadu. It is comprised of two districts, namely Coimbatore and Erode. Documentation of indigenous technologies was done through interview and group discussion. Fourteen criteria, namely technology title, local name, location, agro-ecology, purpose, scope, description, conditions for adoption, feasibility, advantages, constrains, extent of adoption, approximate cost and technical effectiveness were used for collecting the required information about the particular indigenous technology.
Results and Discussion
Five cow based indigenous technologies adopted by the dry land farmers were identified and these are described below:
Green leaf extract with cow’s urine for pest control
Samalapuram village of Coimbatore District, Tamil Nadu is characterized by red soil and receives an annual rainfall of 680 mm. The farmers of Samalapuram have developed an innovative method of pest control using locally available green leaves of Neem, Pungam, Nochi, Erukku and Tulsi. The farmers prepared a green leaf extract, (locally known as Poochi viratti), which was used mainly to cut down their cost incurred for pest management. The farmers opined that Neem, Pungam, Nochi, Erukku and Tulsi leaves have some insecticidal property, bitter in taste, and ability to drive away the insects when the leaf extract solution is sprayed as foliar application in the field.
Farmers first crush about 1 kg each of green leaves of Neem, Pungam, Nochi, Erukku and Tulsi with the help of an indigenous milling tool made of granite stone called, ural. Crushed leaves are mixed with 100 L cow’s urine and allowed to ferment for 10-15 days in a vessel (Fig. 1).
The solution is stirred daily using only a wooden sticks so that fermentation process takes place uniformly. Once an obnoxious odour comes out from the solution it is used as an indicator for completion of fermentation. Usually it takes 10-15 days. Then, the mixture is filtered using a cotton cloth. The leaf extract (10 L) was used for spraying 1 acre of the cropped land. Usually farmers spray leaf extract on 1 ½ months old crop even before the pest had attacked. This leaf extract is sprayed on paddy, red gram, black gram, brinjal, bhendi, etc. Most of the leaf-sucking pests like aphids, hoppers, borers and beetles get repelled due to this organic solution.
The method is effective and economical. No extra cost is involved to adopt this technology. Green leaf extract usage reduces the cost of pest control thereby minimizing the cost of cultivation. The green leaf formulation has both insecticidal and growth regulator properties. Nearly 40% of farmers have tried this organic method of pest control in villages.
Cotton seed treatment with cow dung
Farmers of Periyakallipatty village, Tamil Nadu practice cottonseed treatment with cow dung. This region is characterized by red soil and receives an annual rainfall of 680 mm. Farmers of dry land agriculture faced the problem of stickiness of cottonseeds creating difficulty during dibbling of the seeds. To overcome this problem, cotton growers follow a practice of seed treatment with cow dung slurry locally called as Sanipal pidithal.
Farmers mix the cottonseeds with cow dung in the ratio of 1:1/4, i.e. 1 kg cow dung is dissolved in ¼ L water (resulting in a semisolid form). The mixture is then rubbed with the seeds (Fig. 3). This treatment is believed to separate one seed from others easily during sowing. Apart from ease in sowing, this practice improved the early establishment of seeds. This practice was adopted for the purpose of removing the fuzzy hairs and also to make dibbling of cottonseeds easy.
Nearly 60% farmers adopt this technology as no extra cost is involved. It is both safer and cheaper method to facilitate sowing operation. It is moderately effective (60%) in sowing seeds.
Chilli seed treatment with cow dung slurry
Viraliyur village in Coimbatore district, Tamil Nadu is characterized by red soil and receive an annual rainfall of 650 mm. The chilli growers of this village use cow dung for the treatment of chilli seeds. Chilli is an important commercial crop grown as rain fed crop in this village.
Cow dung solution is prepared by dissolving 1 kg of cow dung in 2 L of water. Fresh cow dung is preferred because it mixes easily with water. Chilli seeds required for sowing (400 gm/ac) are tied in a cotton cloth and soaked in cow dung solution for 24 hrs (Fig. 2). The seeds are then dried in shade for 2 hrs, and used for sowing. This seed treatment induces germination in the chilli nursery 5 days earlier than normal sowing. Due to soaking, the seeds appear swollen and the sowing process becomes easier.
Nearly 40% farmers adopt this technology as no extra cost is involved. This process is effective (80 %) in inducing the germination of seeds and control of seed borne diseases like fruit rot.
Whitefly control with buttermilk in Bhendi crops
Kanoorputhur village in Avinasi taluk, Tamil Nadu is characterized by red soil and receive an annual rainfall of 720 mm. In Bhendi, whitefly is a great menace and is controlled by spraying fermented buttermilk. About 10 L of buttermilk is kept for 2 days for fermentation in a closed earthen pot. About 1 L fermented solution mixed with 9 L water is sprayed on 25 days old Bhendi crops (Fig. 4). Whiteflies, leaf-sucking pests attacking the crop usually in the vegetative stage serves as a vector in transmitting TMV (Tobacco Mosaic Virus). Hence by controlling the whitefly, transmission of viral disease is controlled.
Nearly 50% Bhendi growers have adopted this low cost technology. The use of buttermilk has been found to be moderately effective (60%) in controlling the whitefly infestation.
Ragi seed hardening using cow’s urine
Soaking of Ragi (Eleusine coracana Gaertn.) seeds for seed hardening are followed by dry land farmers of Thondamuthur village, Tamil Nadu. The region is characterized by red soil with an annual rainfall of 700 mm. Ragi, commonly called Poor man’s crop, is the main food grain in dry areas of Tamil Nadu. Farmers grow Ragi crop mostly in rain fed condition.
Seed hardening is a specific treatment given to seeds before sowing to withstand adverse soil moisture condition. To avoid water stress during the crop growth, an indigenous seed hardening method using cow’s urine is practiced. For Ragi seed hardening, first cow’s urine solution is prepared using fresh cow’s urine (100 ml) mixed with 1 L cold water. About 6.0 L solution is required to soak 6 kg Ragi seeds. During soaking, cow’s urine solution is kept 3-4 cm above from the seed level. After soaking for about 16 hrs, the seeds are shade dried for about 24 hrs and used for sowing operation (Fig. 5).
Cow’s urine when treated with Ragi seeds were found to be effective against seed borne diseases like smut and also in inducing drought resistance in crop plants. Nearly 60% farmers have adopted this low cost technology.
Indigenous practices play a vital role in sustainable agriculture. It is the sum total of knowledge and practices which are based on people’s accumulated experience in dealing with situations and problems in various aspects of life. It is hoped that farmers will be able to understand and exchange the cheaper, viable and reliable technologies in their areas and researchers will get Indigenous Technical Knowledge for test verification and able to select viable technology for popularization.
Farmer’s Notebook: Native Cows Could Help Prevent Farmer Suicides
Owning a desi cow breed could enable farmers to cut most agriculture costs and also earn money from cow-based products, saving them from debt.
Agriculture is no longer the work of illiterate farmers who depend on middlemen and grow crops using obsolete methods, doing the same run-of-the-mill job day in and day out.
The IT revolution has brought sweeping changes to India’s agriculture industry. The skinny, dhoti clad, unshaven farmers of the past have been replaced by young, educated men in jeans, Nike sneakers and Ray Bans, who are taking a new, more sophisticated approach to the profession.
A good example is S. Vinoth Reddy who hails from an agriculture family near Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh.
After he graduated with a B.Sc degree, Reddy’s family wanted him to work in a private company but he had his own ideas.
“I have been doing research on the current agriculture process and was getting a lot of information from farmers and the issues causing farmer suicides. My question is why do these farmers commit suicides? What is the reason behind this? My search continuously made me travel to different places, helped me meet several farmers, question them and at last I came to know that the main cause is debt,” said Reddy.
He explained, “How does this debt come to a farmer? From buying inputs like seeds and fertilisers. And mostly farmers buy fertilisers on credit for which a small interest is charged by the fertiliser retail shops. Monsoon failure or [using the] wrong methods [of cultivation] cause him to fail and he goes back to the shop to buy more inputs hoping he will succeed this time, not realising that he has not rectified his earlier mistake. Again he losses and finds himself under debt from which he can never come out. The easy way out of his emotional turmoil is committing suicide, which makes it easy for him to escape the humiliation, leaving his family permanently damaged.”
“I wanted to make a change, at least try to create a change in which I would be an example,” emphasises Vinoth. “At least try to stand up to tell others, see I am doing it and am successful if you like you can follow me,” he adds.
But his family was not going to accept his idea because they thought it was not worth the risk and quite dangerous. To them, a monthly income from a stable company was a safety cushion.
But Vinoth persuaded his family to give him three years time. He said, “If I failed in three years I would toe their line, I promised.”
He started working on his small farm as part of his research. As he had previously observed that farmers suicides mainly occur due to one reason – debt – he decided to start from there and bought four desi breed Punganoor cows.
In my opinion, desi cow-based agriculture is the only solution for preventing farmer suicides. Reddy can avoid most of the expenses of agriculture by developing seeds, preparing fertilisers and chemicals at home.
Reddy makes 18 cow-based products such as tooth powder, cow dung cakes, dish washer soap, wall hangers, face packs, phenyl, dung bricks, pain relief oil, sacred ash, mosquito repellent and garlands; and sells them online through agriculturalinformation.com and indiamart.com websites.
“We get email and Whatsapp messages when a user requests cow-based products through these websites,” explained Reddy.
Presently he is trying to make 180 shapes of dung cakes with the help of the Bangalore Institute of Technology (BIT).
According to Reddy, a desi cow can help farmers financially, preventing them from falling into crippling debt.
Here are some short snippets of my conversation with him.
I asked Reddy that when labour itself is scarce and the monsoon is playing truant, how can one expect a farmer to keep native cattle?
“Every region/ district in a state has its own cattle. These are quite sturdy and do not need special attention like jerseys or HF (Holstein Friesian) breeds. Also, today in organic farming the solitary desi cow can help a farmer cultivate three acres of land with ease without much expense. This has been proven true in nearly 25 villages across Chitoor district. The sad part is that Telengana, which is hardly 80 kms from here, is a hotbed of farmers suicides and it will do the state’s farmers good if they can come here and see us, we can help them more than what the government says or has not done,” he smiled confidently.
Reddy also explained why the Punganoor cow breed is particularly popular in the state, in addition to Ongole.
He said, “The Punganoor cow is an amazingly efficient milker with an average milk yield of 3-5 litres a day on a daily feed intake of 5 kg. It is also highly drought resistant, and able to survive exclusively on dry fodder. It is known as poor man’s cow.”
Reddy compared the cow to a deer to explain his point further, “The body language of the cow is similar to a deer. The breed’s milk has a high fat content and is rich in medicinal properties. While cow milk normally has a fat content of 3 to 3.5%, the Punganur breed’s milk contains 8% . The body of the breed slopes downwards from front to hind quarters; tail touching the ground; slight mobile horns, almost flat along the back and normally at different heights from each other.”
Despite being such a useful animal, the breed is nearly extinct today. Reddy said, “Today the breed is on the verge of extinction, with some 20-odd animals remaining all over the state. The cattle are being reared mainly on the government livestock farm, Palamaner, in Chittoor district, while a small informal group of private breeders are also working on reviving the species. It is not officially recognised as a breed since there are only a few animals remaining.”
He continued, “We can say the Punganur cow has become a craze, a status symbol among wealthy people. They are shelling out Rs 1-6 lakh to buy the cow, which is believed to bring good luck. In Andhra Pradesh today the poor man’s cow has become rich people’s property.”
Reddy offered some ideas on reviving the breed, “If the government is keen then scientifically, the breed can be developed through the artificial insemination process. There are some local breed cows available which would be suited to develop the breed by inseminating them with Punganur semen. The first calving can get 50% characters, and by the third or fourth generation 100% Punganur characteristics can be developed.”
CM promotes cow-based spiritual farming
Ahmedabad: Chief minister Vijay Rupani on Thursday inaugurated a five-day ‘Zero Budget Cow-Based ‘Adhyatmic Kheti’ (Spiritual Farming) Camp’ with the mantra of ‘Minimum Input; Maximum Output’ at the Hansraj Savjibhai Radadia Leuva Patel Kumar Chhatrawas at Jamkandorna in Rajkot.
Member of parliament Vitthalbhai Radadia, Padma Shri farmer Subhash Palekar, Saurashtra Jaldhara Trust’s Mansukhbhai Suvagia, Bagsara Swaminarayan Mandir’s Mahant Swami Maharaj, and Goseva Ayog Chairman Vallabhbhai Kathiria also spoke at the camp.
Cow-based ‘spiritual farming’ to usher in agricultural revolution in Gujarat: Vijay Rupani
GANDHINAGAR: Chief minister Vijay Rupani on Thursday inaugurated a five-day Zero Budget Cow-Based ‘Adhyatmic Kheti’ (Spiritual Farming) Camp with the mantra of ‘Minimum Input; Maximum Output’ at the Hansraj Savjibhai Radadiya Leuva Patel Kumar Chhatrawas at Jamkandorna in Rajkot.
Speaking on the occasion, he said the cow-based Spiritual Farming is to revive the ancient farming methods providing ‘jobs to every hand; water to every farm’ and is good for both land and environment.
The chief minister said the state government will extend all possible assistance to the farmers of the Saurashtra. His government has unflinching faith in the strength of farmers. They have made rapid strides during the last decade, due to the government’s constant efforts to transfer scientific methods of farming from labs-to-farms, to help farmers increase yield and change their lifestyles.
He said there is need to make agriculture profitable, and encourage farmers take up animal husbandry along side. There is need to make spiritual farming a mass movement.
The Chief Minister presented cheques of Rs.11,000 to each of the 11 farmers of zero budget spiritual farming. The camp director Prafulbhai Senjlia presented a cheque of Rs.51,000 to the Chief Minister. Leuva Patel Kumar and Kanya Chhatrawas presented a cheque of Rs.1.51-lakh to the camp organizers.
Cow-based agriculture, health and environment, First ever national conference in Gujarat
National conference on ‘Cow-based Agriculture, Health & Enviornment’ was held recently at Anand, Gujarat. It was jointly organised by the Gau Seva Ayog Gujarat and Anand Agricultural University. It was for the first time that a scientific conference on cow was held in Gujarat and that too by Goverment initiatve.
After the appointment of Dr Vallabhbhai Kathiria as Chairman of the Gau Seva Ayog, the Ayog has started working in full swing for cow-based spirituo-socio-economic development of the State. It was very much echoed at the national conference.
The conference was aimed at establishing the importance of cow for the human being, society, country and globe and planet as a whole. Shri Kathiria said the importance of cow as narrated in our ancient literature is true, scientifically tested and proven practically. Now it is high time to convince the young generation with scientific case studies. The conference is the place where all the scientists, doctors, agriclturalists, enviormentalists, social workers, intellectuals, writers have gathered to discuss, interact what they are doing in the field to establish the real importance of the cow.
In the two-day conference exclusive presentations, deliberations and discussions were held on cow-based agriculture, health and enviornmental issues.
The Conference was inaugurated by Shri Deelipbhai Sanghani, Minister for Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Gujarat, in the presence of Goswami Shri Kishorchandra Maharaj of Vaishnav Panth Haveli, Junagarh and Balakdasji Maharaj of Dudhai, Shastri Shri KP Swami; Shastri Shri NC Swami from Swaminarayan Gurukuls, Dr Viditakumari, Dr Kushal Kumar Sudhvi, Swami Chinmayanand from Panjab and others.
The Goverment of Gujarat has imposed complete ban on cow slaughter and made the Act more stringent to prevent illegal slaughtering with severe punishment. Government has given priority for breeding of best quality Gir cow in budgetary allotment, Shri Deelipbhai Said.
Shri Sunil Mansinghka from Devalapar Gaushala Nagpur, who has devoted his whole life for this purpose, delivered the key note address on ‘cow, the integral part of our life’.
Shri Shankarlal, Akhil Bharatiya Gau Sewa Pramukh, RSS appealed to the delegates to take oath for Gau sewa for the life time. He requested the audience to work on any one field discussed at the conference to preserve the heritage, culture and human race. He said if cow is saved, we will be saved. The real mother, the Gau Mata and the Mother Earth are three mothers who require to be protected by all of us.
Shri Rajshekhar Rajpurohit, Chairman of Gau Seva Ayog, Rajasthan, and Shri Premchand Singhania, Vice Chairman of Gau Seva Ayog, Chhattisgarh, Dr SK Mittal, co-convener of BJP Cow Development Cell, and other dignitaries also participated in the conference.
Shri Omprakash Dhankar, national president of BJP Kishan Morcha, Shri Rupalaji, national vice president of BJP and Shri Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, Vice Chairman of Planning Commission, Gujarat, also addressed the conference.
Dr Anna Saheb MK Patil, former Central Minister, emphasised on the importance of fuel generation from cow dung and its environmental impact.
During the conference, 100 Gau Bhaktas were felicitated with mementoes and certificates for their outstanding contribution in the field of Gau Sewa and related activities.
It was a cream gathering of about 1200 intellectuals working in the field of cow related activities all over the country at Anand Agricultural University Campus.
Dr Hardas from Hyderabad and Dr Nandini Bhojraje from Nagpur, Dr Jaikrishna from Chennai, Dr RS Chauhan from Nainital, Dr Hitesh Jani and Dr Karishna from Jamnagar, Dr DK Sadana from Pune, Dr Nanoti from Nagpur, Dr Kharab, chairman AWBI, Dr Kelkar from Pune and Dr MG Patel addressed the delegates on various subjects.
Few resolutions were passed and an action plan was decided at the end of the conference:
1. Complete ban and no relaxation in export of beef from the country.
2. To promote breeding of pure Gir and Kankrej progenies in Gujarat and indigenous breeds in other states.
3. No cross-breeding between indigenous and Jersy cows.
4. Promotion of organic farming based on cow manure and cow urine and government support for the same.
5. Massive drive for gaucher development at village level on pasture and waste land.
6. Complete protection of gauchar land from encroachment.
7. Tax exemption for panchgavya products, relaxation in licencee procedures for manufacturers.
8. Promotion of panchgavya Chikitsa, inclusion of panchgavya syllabus in Ayurvedic Universities.
9. Coordination between all agricultural, veterinary colleges, universities and research centres along with fund allocation for research activities for indegenous cows and their progenies.
10. To award the best Gaushalas and panjrapoles every year to promot self-relient institutions.
11. To promote Gaushalas in educational institutions, campuses, temples, math and Ashrams, etc.
12. To establish Gaushalas and panchgavya production centres in Jails wherever fisible.
13. To promote rural development concept based on cow and her progeny.
14. To establish training centres for organic farming, panchgavya products, Gau Palan and rural industries.
15. To promote panchgavya products by self-help groups in villages and giving them proper training.