The 21st century is a century of fast growth and dependence on machines. From the early morning to bed time we are totally dependent on machines. In such a fast life, we often forget about one of the very essentials of our life – food. Yes, food.
Food is not produced by machines but by plants and animals. If we don’t bother about what we eat, certainly we are not bothered about its composition. We gained huge momentum in the production of food through the Green Revolution, White Revolution, Pink Revolution, Yellow Revolution… but at the same time we incorporated many such chemicals and drugs in our food chain which have very deleterious effects on our health. Day by day, the use of such chemicals is increasing both in crop production and livestock production.
Pesticides and insecticides in crop production and antibiotics and hormones in livestock production, though they have made us world leaders in food and milk production and given food and nutritional security to our nation, have endowed our bodies with many ailments due to bio-accumulation of those chemicals. The plant and animal produce treated with such chemicals serves as a slow poison for humans and are slowly killing our health and the health of future generations. The result is that, all around the world, major producers are reverting back to chemical-free, organic farming.
The livestock sector in India plays a very crucial role, from the micro-economy of a family to the macro-economy of the nation. Rural life in India depends upon livestock both for economic and food security. Livestock raised in villages is transported to urban areas. In this process, not only is the livestock transported, but also the antibiotic and other chemical residues.
The consistent and widespread use of antibiotics in the livestock sector has resulted in the development of antibiotic resistance in human populations. The degree of antibiotic use is so extensive that mostly the resistance is aggravated by bio-accumulation of the same antibiotic in the human body, which results in a series of toxic symptoms and ultimately becomes fatal.
This means that we should stop the usage of antibiotics. But what do we do when an animal falls sick? The simple answer is to revert back to basics, i.e. shift farming from antibiotics to locally-available natural herbs. The herbs as such will cure the disease condition and also their residues will not be present in the livestock produce.
My name is Pranav Kumar (38 years of age) and I am presently working as Assistant Professor in the Division of Veterinary & Animal Husbandry Extension at the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, R.S. Pura, SKUAST- Jammu (J&K) since May 2010. I have over 10 years of work experience. Before taking the University assignment of teaching, research and extension, I was associated with an NGO (PRADAN) and milk production company (NGC Mother Dairy, now Sahaj), working very closely with farming communities.
In 2011, I worked on a project called “Documentation, Validation & Extension of Suitable Package of Practices (POPs) of Indigenous Technical Knowledge (ITKs) in Treatment of Various Ailments of Livestock in Jammu Division of J&K State.”
From time immemorial, Indian peoples have been using herbs for the treatment of various diseases. India is a land blessed with many such herbs and their usage in the treatment of disease has been well established, whether in humans or animals. The project I worked on has found that many herbs and plant parts which are locally available can be put to use for treating ailments in livestock, and such treatment regimens assure no residual effect on human populations.
The proposed project, “Back to basics: Indigenous herbs and organic farming” is to raise awareness and encourage farmers to go for organic dairy husbandry practices using medicinal herbs and other indigenous technical knowledge and practices, which are gradually becoming extinct, in the R.S. Pura sector of Jammu and Kashmir State of India, a border area that is known for its aromatic Basmati rice all over the world.
As the principle agricultural production department, Jammu has planned to convert some of the Basmati-cropped area into organic Basmati fields, involving more than 500 farmers who are also traditionally dairy farmers. Thus, the integrated approach of Department of Agriculture and the proposed project will go a long way in the promotion of organic dairying and the farmers will get a remunerative income not only from the organic Basmati but also from organic milk and milk products by utilizing organic crop residues at the fullest level.
By giving them suitable training and capacity building, they can be made to start organic livestock farming, too. As a young agripreneur, I wish to transform livestock farming practices along organic lines!
My work, my way
I have completed two research projects as Co-Principal Investigator in the specified area. I have been with many farmers and come to know about their way of doing things, and observed their passion for envisaging any new way of doing things. I will work on capacity building of the farmers rearing livestock and impart to them suitable know-how through training and workshops. I will train them in identification and usage of locally available herbs for animal diseases and thus avoid the use of antibiotics. This will result in reducing the antibiotic load from the livestock and thus from the food chain, along with stabilizing the rural economy.
Rural life: an inspiration
Indians live in villages. This statement has its meaning in its roots. The rural life and the rural people had made me to work on this project. I had spent many years of my life in villages along with farmers and come to know that if you want to revolutionize India, just revolutionize Indian villages. This is exactly what I want to do by taking on this project. My endeavor is to promote the use of locally available herbs, to demote the use of antibiotics, to develop livestock farming practices from inorganic to organic and to make rural people and rural life economically and socially stable.
In the timeframe of a year, I will work on creating small start-ups of organic farms in the area by survey and selection of about 150 interested entrepreneurial farmers having at least 5 dairy animals, ready to transform their conventional animal husbandry practices into organic dairy husbandry. Capacity building will occur through training and workshops leading to creation of awareness regarding Standard Operating Procedures for organic dairy farming and benefits arising out of entrepreneurial organic dairy husbandry. Then, I will work on collaboration among the farmers sharing their common interest, leading to the formation of Self Help Groups.
Providing technical training for the use of indigenous herbs and subsequently undertaking the practices of organic farming will be the main area of interest. After fulfilling all the prerequisites, a model organic practicing village will be formed. This model village will act as a technology dissemination centre and further extension will be carried out from the same village. Moreover, I will focus on creating a cooperative of organic farmers that will encourage other farmers to undertake the same model of practices and business.
I need $500 USD for initial baseline surveys and selection of interested entrepreneurial farmers, including travelling charges.
$2500 USD for capacity building through trainings and workshops.
$1200 USD for preparation and printing of training manuals and other extension materials as well as miscellaneous items.
$800 USD for formation of Self Help Groups and cooperatives.
The success of this project rests on the fact that the R.S. Pura area has a good number of prosperous livestock farmers using the breeding line of the world famous Nili-Ravi buffalo. These farmers are already convinced to undertake organic Basmati cultivation, so the ability of the farmers to adopt a new set of practices is high, especially considering the growing market and good profit margin of organic milk and milk products. My experience and my skills will also add to the success of the project.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Pranav Kumar (Jammar, India) – vet_pranav[at]rediffmail.com
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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