I am Dr Hemanth Gowda, 31, from Karnataka, India. I am postgraduate student of veterinary science, presently employed as Assistant Professor at Karnataka Veterinary Animal and Fisheries Science University, Bidar. My project location is in Keregalli Village, Hassan District, Karnataka state, Southern India.
I was born and raised in a South Indian village where livestock are a part of the way of life. I am involved in research and extension activities pertaining to animal management, diseases, and production.
My goal is rural-oriented and farmer-friendly. Considering the prevailing low-quality milk production from our milk production system, I am proposing diagnostic services for our farmers at a cheaper cost.
India ranks first in the world in milk production with 137 million tonnes of milk produced in 2014–15. Dairying in India is a classic example of cooperative federation and societies and production by the masses.
In spite being at top in quantity, the quality of milk is very poor. Because of low quality, the international export of milk or milk products is not possible for us.
The main reason for producing low quality milk in India is a disease condition called mastitis, either clinical or subclinical. In India, the economic losses due to mastitis have increased about 115-fold in the last five decades.
According to National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi (2013), the annual economic loss incurred by the dairy industry from udder infections is USD 900 million, with th loss of 650 million USD (70–80%) attributed to subclinical mastitis.
Lack of awareness, delay in detection of sub-clinical mastitis, unhygienic milking practices, small diverse production systems, inadequate treatment, etc.—these are some of the important contributing factors to a higher incidence of subclinical mastitis, leading to economic losses to farmers.
Subclinical mastitis is more prevalent than clinical, ranging from 19% to 78%. In the subclinical-mastitis-affected animals, the milk yield reduces considerably: milk yield loss ranges from 100 to 500 kg per cow per lactation.
When subclinical mastitis occurs, additional losses result from discard of abnormal milk, and the cost of drugs and veterinary services. The losses are either due to temporary or permanent loss of milk production, poor milk quality, discarding of milk from affected animals prior to or after antibiotic treatment, and premature culling of the cow or reduced productive life of animals.
Also the milk from the suffering animal generally carries a microbial load that renders it unsuitable for human consumption or the export of dairy products.
In spite of several steps taken by the government and milk federations to improve the quality of milk, the main causal factor of subclinical mastitis has not yet been controlled. The reasons for failure in control of subclinical mastitis are prevailing small dairy units and lack of regular screening of animals, automated systems, infrastructure, manpower, and knowledge at farmer level.
It is, therefore, important to undertake a plan to prevent and control subclinical mastitis. At this juncture, providing milk quality diagnostic services at the milk collection centres of milk federations for diagnosis of subclinical mastitis helps in quality milk production.
Hence, the loss to farmers due to subclinical mastitis is avoided, and the profit percentage obtained by export of milk and its products will be of additional benefits to farmers and also provide job opportunities and livelihood for village rural youths.
My entrepreneurial plan is to establish a milk quality diagnostic laboratory worth of USD 5,000 (building USD 1,500, instrumentation USD 2,500, reagents and glassware USD 1,000) at a nearby place, covering around 12 cooperative milk collection centres.
A technician trained in milk quality analysis will be employed. The collection of milk for quality analysis is done by the technician once a fortnight from each of the 12 different collection centres.
The milk is checked for subclinical mastitis at the laboratory and report submitted to the respective societies. These, in turn, inform the farmers to get their animals treated by the treatment wing of milk federations or veterinarians.
The diagnostic centre can analyse an average of 3,000 samples a month. The charge of diagnostic services for the analysis is USD 0.20 per sample, corresponding to monthly revenue of USD 600. The cost of analysis is paid by respective cooperative milk societies. This monthly net income generated is going to be used for bearing the monthly expenses of service and technician.
The milk federation willingly accepts the proposal, as it is impossible for them to carry out the diagnostic service with the existing technical manpower. Enabling outsourcing for diagnosis reduces their economic burden too.
The informal consent with federation to take up diagnostic services for quality analysis has been accepted by local milk federation. In the long run, the number of diagnostic centres can be expanded, covering all the collection centres and help in quality milk production. Thus the enterprise becomes self sustained.
Saying ‘Yes!’ to milk quality diagnostic services is going to be the next slogan for milk producers and farmers.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Hemanth Gowda (India): hemannagowda[at]gmail.com
The content, structure and grammar are at the discretion of the author only.
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