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Britannia Industries’ Dairy Farmers Welfare Program is facilitating farmers in Maharashtra to improve their economic situation through better cattle productivity and incomes. The Dairy Farmer Welfare Program was designed with the aim of inculcating sustainable agricultural practices in line with the Government’s National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture to make agriculture more productive, lucrative and climate-resilient.

The programme strengthens the capacity of dairy farmers by helping them generate higher productivity for their cattle, thereby helping them raise their incomes, while at the same time improving the nutritional security for the milk consumers.

The real-time information and customized knowledge have improved farmers’ decision-making ability and align their cattle output with market demand, apart from also securing quality and productivity. Currently, this capacity-building programme has scaled up to 54 milk collection centers in Maharashtra with a cumulative volume of 53,000 litres per day, benefiting more than 2,500 farmers.

Varun Berry, Managing Director, Britannia Industries, said, “Britannia, as a responsible corporate citizen shares the responsibility to create value for our stakeholders and sustainable sourcing is a key element of our promise. The Dairy Farmer Welfare Programme helps farmers gain knowledge and skills to unlock their potential by enabling higher productivity, better margins and increased incomes while promoting best practices aligned with the government’s vision to promote a sustainable agriculture sector.”

“Britannia will also be implementing various developmental schemes to ensure farmers’ prosperity and welfare, while mitigating their risks,” he added.

The Dairy Farmer Welfare Programme for milk procurement was launched in 2017 targeting 3 villages near Ranjangaon in Maharashtra and engaged with 120 farmers to procure 2,100 liters of milk, every day. The farmers were faced with financial losses due to the prevalence of Mastitis (bacterial infection), resulting in deterioration of udder health leading to low quality of milk and less yield.

Farmers had to spend up to Rs 3,000 to 5,000 per cow on allopathic medication. This was further exacerbated with tied cattle housing, poor cattle nutrition and improper pregnancy care, which led to decreased milk yield and substantial financial losses.

The company embarked on a mass farmer contact programme to educate farmers about the best animal husbandry practices. Farmers were educated about the benefits of loose cattle housing in which animals are kept loose throughout the day and night, except at the time of milking.

The freedom to roam freely and get optimum exercise prevented and reduced the incidence of lameness in cattle reduced instances of Mastitis and increased the yields. The training was provided to farmers on the prevention of Mastitis and early detection, along with the use of ethnoveterinary medicines that provided low-cost alternatives to allopathic drugs.

Farmers were also taught to make silage through available resources such as Maize, Sorghum, Napier, Bajra and Sugarcane tops. This reduced the cost of silage production of Rs 3.0- Rs 3.5 per kg, as against the external procurement price of Rs 6.5- Rs 7 per kg. This has resulted in better utilization of land for farmers, especially those with lesser landholding and has increased output of fodder crop, besides providing better nutrition to cattle.

The programme ensures that cattle are dewormed and given calcium and mineral supplements. Under the aegis of Project Kamadhenu, farmers were educated about the best calf rearing practices, that helped reduce the high incidence of mortality, and enabled weight gain of calves up to 800 grams per day compared to 300 gms per day, before the interventions. In addition, the Heifer management programme helped in better reproductive management and ensured better performance of the breeding herd.

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