The convergence of multi-stakeholders, aimed at promoting integrated and participatory extension approaches, can achieve prevention and control of sub-clinical mastitis in dairy animals. Dr Prakashkumar Rathod and Dr K C Veeranna, share their experiences with convergence based on the Sujala-III project implementation in Karnataka (India).
India is blessed with the highest cattle and buffalo population, but the productivity per se is very poor (Chander et al., 2010) which might be due to factors like poor availability of improved breeds and breeding services, targeted preventive animal health care, better feeding strategies and access to formal credit facilities. Among all these factors, poor health of livestock (with innumerable diseases) causes considerably high economic losses to the predominantly poor, marginal and landless farmers. Among various diseases affecting the dairy industry in India, mastitis is one of the most important diseases affecting the dairy cattle and impacting the economic returns of the dairy farms (Chanda et al., 1989) (Box 1). However, the dairy farmers lack information about the disease, and its prevention and control at farm level causing heavy economic losses.
Although, various extension services are delivered by multifarious agencies, viz., Directorate of Extension (Ministry of Agriculture), Indian Council of Agricultural Research, National Dairy Development Board, Krishi Vigyan Kendra (Farm Science Centre), State Agricultural and Veterinary Universities and State Department of Animal Husbandry, private agencies, Dairy Cooperatives and NGOs, the farmers still lack information about scientific technologies and practices. Further, due to lack of convergence among different agencies involved in dairy development, the scientific technologies and practices developed in the research institutes do not reach the end-users (Rathod and Chander, 2015). It has to be noted that, without convergence of efforts by varied public, private and other agencies, it is difficult to reach a large number of dairy farmers with new and improved knowledge of dairying (Dixit et. al., 2016).
Box 1. Mastitis and Subclinical Mastitis (SCM) in Dairy Animals
Among the animal diseases which affect the profitability of rearing animals, mastitis is considered to be one of the expensive diseases in terms of production losses (Bardhan, 2013). It is characterized by inflammation of udder tissue, causing pathological changes in udder parenchyma and characterized by physical, chemical and microbiological changes in milk (Radostitis et al., 2000). Further, the mastitis milk is unsuitable for consumption and is one of sources of communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, brucellosis, staphylococcal toxemia, septic sore throat, gastroenteritis, etc. The magnitude of these changes in individual animals varies with the severity and duration of the infection and the causative microorganisms. These microorganisms directly damage milk-producing tissue of the mammary gland and contribute to decreased milk production and unhygienic or poor quality milk.
Scant literature is available on quantification of region-specific economic effects of subclinical form of mastitis (SCM) where visible abnormalities such as udder swelling, hardness of the affected quarter, pain and watery milk remain absent. SCM is of great economic importance to dairy farmers because it results in milk yield reduction and undesirable changes in the milk’s composition (Halasa et al., 2009), as well as increased costs associated with control strategies. In subclinical mastitis (SCM) there are no visible abnormalities in the udder tissues, except an elevated Somatic Cell Count (SCC).
We therefore emphasized on convergence of multi-stakeholders for enhancing the knowledge level of dairy farmers about mastitis and addressing the constraints faced by them in adoption of preventive and control practices of mastitis.
Sujala is a Watershed Development Project designed by the Government of Karnataka (http://watershed.kar.nic.in/website_dec2006/suj_hompg.htm) and implemented by the Watershed Development Department of Government of Karnataka, with tripartite cost-sharing arrangements. The World Bank, through the International Development Association, provided a major portion of the plan outlay as a loan to the Government of India, for further lending to the Government of Karnataka.
The key development objective of Sujala is to improve the productive potential of selected watersheds and their associated natural resource base, and strengthen community and institutional arrangements for natural resource management. An associated objective is to strengthen the capacity of communities in the project districts for participatory involvement in planning, implementation, social and environmental management and maintenance. The implementing department operates in a more socially inclusive manner, within the framework of a convergent watershed development plan.
The project development objective of Sujala-III is to demonstrate more effective watershed management through greater integration of programs related to rainfed agriculture, innovative and science based approaches and strengthened institutions and capacities. The project is implemented in Bidar, Gulbarga, Yadgiri, Koppal, Gadag, Davanagere, Tumkur, Shivamogga and Chamarajanagar districts of Karnataka, identified by the Watershed Development Department based on water and socio-economic conditions.
The good practices discussed in this note are from the project villages of the World Bank funded, Karnataka Watershed Development Department sponsored – Sujala III project, implemented by the Veterinary College, Bidar which is under the aegis of the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University (KVAFSU), Bidar (Karnataka) during last two years viz. 2015-16 and 2016-17. Further, the individual farmers and member farmers of producer organizations (for example: Karnataka Milk federation, Private milk societies etc.) were also part of this initiative. We undertook a study on this initiative to mainly understand the process and impact of this initiative (Box 2).
Box 2. Methodology of the Study
- Purposive sampling technique was used for selecting Bidar district since Sujala-III project was implemented in this district by Veterinary College, Bidar. A total of about 480 farmers from 10 project villages as identified by the Government of Karnataka were selected for this study. It was also noted that these farmers had milking animals during the study period and majority of them poured milk to the primary milk societies in their villages.
- Awareness programmes, trainings and demonstrationswere conducted bythemulti-disciplinary teams for the beneficiaries. A before-after research design was followed for the study to know the impact of these programmes on the knowledge level of the farmers.
- Pre-exposure and post-exposure knowledge tests were conducted for the beneficiaries, focusing on the objectives of the scheme, before and after conducting the awareness and demonstration programme.
Further, retention level was tested 30 days after the training programme.
Convergence of multi-stakeholders: As discussed earlier, multifarious agencies viz. World Bank, Karnataka Watershed Development Department, Veterinary College, Bidar, Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals Laboratory under Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University, Bidar, individual farmers and member farmers of producer organizations were involved in the project.
Technical staff/Human resource: The project involved technical staff of various stakeholders and a secretary of milk society or a local leader was nominated in the village to follow-up the activities. The secretary also guided the farmers as per the instructions of the experts in prevention and control of SCM.
It is a very good effort by authors in getting all the key stakeholders in dairy development on a common platform to address mastitis, an ailment which is responsible for incurring huge losses to the dairy farmers. The only point of worry is its sustainability after the project is withdrawn. The dairy farmers do not adopt preventive practices like vaccinations, deworming, clean milk production (CMP) practices ( mastitis prevention ) for the simple reason their results are not easily observable and take long time to show the direct impact. The efforts of various organisations in getting the CMP adopted by the Dairy farmers did not succeed because the milk is tested and payment is made on the basis of Fat and SNF but not on the somatic cell count or bacterial quality. The Dairy Coop Society being an important stakeholder and beneficiary must encourage dairy farmers to follow CMP by giving some incentives like collecting the milk of these producers separately, supply of diagnostic kits, cattle feed, Area Specific Mineral Mixture etc. As the dairy farmers are not getting any additional income for supplying good quality milk , they hesitate to practice CMP practices which cost them additional labour and inputs. The dairy farmers may not see the benefits of preventing mastitis. Research is yet to come out with a easy and fast method to evaluate the bacterial quality of milk. Congratulations to Drs. Prakashkumar and Veeranna for taking up such a difficult and important field problem.