Heifer Nepal Hosts Workshop to Scale Feeding and Health Management Technologies for Enhanced Dairy Animal Production
Heifer Nepal organized a results-sharing workshop on “Feeding and Health Management for Enhanced Dairy Animal Production” in late March.
A key objective was to share the results of research projects. The studies are called “Feeding Support Tool Development for Enhancing Dairy Animal Productivity for Improved Livelihood of Smallholder Dairy Farmers” and “Improving Dairy Animal Productivity and Income of Dairy Farmers through Effective Control of Mastitis Disease.” The projects were funded by USAID Feed the Future, Innovation Lab for Livestock System and the University of Florida and implemented by Heifer Nepal.
The workshop drew active participation from the Government of Nepal and relevant departments, Nepal Agriculture Research Council, Nepal Dairy Development Board (NDDB), farmers, project participants, dairy associations and related stakeholders.
Dairy is one of the most important sub-sectors in Nepal’s livestock system and contributes to almost two-thirds of the livestock share of GDP. Dairy has a huge potential in raising the socio-economic status as well as contribute to the nutrition of many small-scale families in Nepal, but there are major constraints for successful scaling.
Studies have shown that the prevalence of sub-clinical mastitis in dairy animals, (both cows and buffaloes) across the country ranges from 13 to 60 percent. This accounts for financial losses to small-scale farmers and increases the threat to public health. The Mastitis Control Project promoted mastitis control technologies like Post-Milk Teat Dipping, California Mastitis Test and Milk Conductivity Tests along with providing knowledge and awareness among farmers on Good Husbandry Practices, which benefited 400 dairy farmers. This resulted in decreased cases of mastitis in both cows and buffaloes in the treatment sites.
Farmers still use traditional systems of animal rearing based on the availability of resources and not as based on the need of the animals. It has been found that though farmers have the knowledge to provide quality forage, only a few are found to practice balancing energy, protein, calcium and phosphorus requirement. The Feeding Support Tool\Ration Balancing app Heifer developed provides a solution. The user-friendly app is used to calculate balanced nutritious diets for dairy animals. The direct implication of the app is reduced production cost and increased farmer’s income by NPR 25/day.
Following presentations on the exciting results, participants divided into two groups and discussed existing gaps in the dairy sector. The groups came up with possible approaches to fulfill these gaps in both health and feeding management of dairy animals.
The workshop was successful in bringing ownership of the research outcomes among stakeholders with the formation of two committees. The Mastitis Control group was led by Dr. Bimal Kumar Nirmal, Director General of Department of Livestock Services, while the Feeding Support Tool committee was led by Mr. Babu Kaji Panta, Acting Executive Director of NDDB.
These committees committed to integrating mastitis control technologies and the feeding support tool into their programs to reach a large number of farmers throughout the country. They pledged to bring out a strategy and budget to scale the results. The committees will hold regular meetings to formalize a plan and proceed with implementation. The commendable ownership showed by the stakeholders in mitigating the issue has brought about a sense of hope in the Dairy Sector of Nepal.