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Supporting Sustainable Livelihoods: Case Study on our Tasar Operations conducted by United Nations - World Food Programme & International Fund for Agricultural Development.
Dairy Development Program  
Outreach-Districts: 5 (Chamoli, Tehri, Pauri, Uttarkashi & Rudraprayag); Villages: 301; Beneficiaries: 5500. Net annual returns: Rs 6.6 crore; Average income: Rs 12,000/annum.

Dairy has been one of the sub-sectors identified by AT India for intervention due to its potential to significantly impact the incomes of a large number of rural poor, especially rural women. Cattle-rearing has been a time-honored subsistence activity, which continues to be intrinsic to almost every rural household in the remote mountains of Uttarakhand. Although underdeveloped due to its traditional nature, the dairy sub-sector is robust and has immense potential for development and poverty alleviation. This has been borne out by its implementation results.

The dairy development program which has been implemented initially in 2 districts Rudraprayag and Chamoli now has been expanded to 3 additional districts viz. Tehri, Uttarkashi and Pauri. It resulted greater visible impact than AT India's other economic activities in terms of increasing number of households, their income and BDS service providers which are currently over 187 still providing the input services to the dairy producer groups (PGs) on commercially basis. Dairying has now become a recognized and preferable livelihood option for approximately 5600 women. The business prospects and commercial viability of the dairy sub-sector has been proven by successful transformation of subsistence dairy activities into micro-dairies with commercial objectives.

AT India believes that the local community's impetus for protection and regeneration of biomass will be heightened by the commercialization of the dairy sub-sector. In keeping with the organization's conservation imperative, plantation of high quality fodder species in private and common lands forms an integral part of the program. In addition, the promotion of stall feeding and chaff cutting techniques are expected to alleviate inviolate extraction of valuable Oak species (Quercus leucotrichophora, Q. floribunda) which is a popular variety of fodder in the region. Open grazing inside the forests, which remains a major threat to ecologically significant plant species in the central Himalayan region, can also be mitigated.

A base line study for dairy sub sector, conducted, by an independent team of consultants for AT India, revealed that the annual average household cash income accruing from various sources, for a household of 5 members, is 25,000 INR ($568). Program interventions have resulted in a steady income (over a six month milking period) of 2448 INR ($55) per annum for the micro-dairy producers, resulting in an increase in the cash income of 9.8%. In rural areas this is a significant increase in income and another indicator of its significance is the continued participation of 95% of the original clients. Most importantly 99% of the participants are women. As the input and output services (described below in the implementation section) continue to mature, it is projected that annual income to the primary producers from dairy will grow from the current 9.8% of total cash income to an even more significant 15%. Subsistence dairy farmers participating in the project are expected increase their incomes by 13 %- 24% on an annual basis.

Programme Highlights
. Self-employment, through provision of commercially viable business services, for approximately 187 youth, who act as BSPs (Business Service providers). These services include- animal health and nutrition services (feed), artificial insemination services, milk collection, distribution and marketing services.
. Development of 5500 commercially oriented micro-dairies with strong market linkages.
. Market accessibility to micro-dairies through creation of 85 collection, distribution and marketing service providers.
. Increased value from sale of fresh milk in the project area from 88, 02, 00.00 INR to INR by the establishment of collection, distribution and market services.
. Establishment of a community owned micro-finance institution (UMM) has increased the accessibility of rural poor women to all essential financial services, including saving, credit and insurance.
. Mobilization of the community towards the common property resource management by linking the Van Panchayats with the fodder cultivation program.
. Positive impact on forest conservation in the long run due to input services (stall feeding and fodder plantations) established commercially in dairy sector in Uttarakhand.

The following approach was adopted for interventions in the dairy sub-sector:
1. Creating micro-producer networks that can generate and capture economies of scale under Business Development Services (BDS) model. These Networks were organized as Mutually Aided Cooperative Societies (MACS) that enable them to operate in a business like way and at the same time provides a variety of micro-finance services to their members, such as credit, savings, and assets insurance.
2. Demonstrating and making relevant productivity enhancing techniques- input services to optimize production. These services, which include fodder cultivation demonstrations; fodder plantation; chaff cutting; vermi-composting; veterinary and artificial insemination services are now available through BSPs who provide these services on a profit basis. Click here for more details
3. The final set of output services is to facilitate creation of local milk grids and networks; thereby creating a dairy marketing network again through BSPs. Click here for more details

Project implementation under the BDS model:
AT India in all its programs has employed the Business Development Services (BDS) strategy (as mentioned earlier). The basic idea being that the Business Service Providers promoted under the model will provide sustainable access to services through private sector providers. It is worthwhile mentioning that that the BDS model adopted by AT India for implementation of dairy-sub sector development project has not only been backed by two market studies, conducted by ORG Marg and MART, New Delhi but has also influenced the implementation of other economic activities in the region.

Input Services - Productivity Enhancing Technology Demonstrations
1. Fodder Cultivation & Cattle Feed Demonstrations
AT India has been facilitating the demonstrations of different fodder cultivations techniques by conducting 1677 winter fodder, 1342 summer fodder and 5743 monsoon fodder demonstrations on 745 hac of private and common lands in the project area. The demonstrations have met with great enthusiasm among the clientele; however the limited available arable land is restricts widespread adoption.

Considering low availability of land at the household level, UMM had promoted fodder development through inclusion of the Van Panchayats on common lands with the support of Uttarakhand Livestock Development Board (ULDB). UMM, as part of demonstration of fodder cultivation on community land, had developed 3 Van Panchayats for large scale fodder cultivation covering 10 hectares land.

The demonstrations of cattle feed held initially, has generated demand for feed, which is being met through a developed network of commercial producers, agents and Business Service Providers (BSPs). The indications for adoption of this service is that there are now 30 new BSPs supplying feed to over 5500 micro-dairies contributing an average revenue of Rs 25,000 INR/month to these service providers.

2. Plantation of Fodder Trees & Establishment of Chaff cutter Services
AT India facilitates plantation of tree fodder to augment the fodder bases in the area. To date it has promoted tree fodder plantation of 2.62 million saplings of Grewia optiva, Bahunia verigata fodder trees as well as local fodder trees on 745 hectare private and communal land in t with the participation of SHG members.

The promotion of animal nutrition and feed, fodder cultivation technology, plantation of tree saplings and establishment of 183 chaff cutter services in the area has addressed the environmental concern to a logical extent.

3. Animal Health and Up-gradation Services
As part of breed improvement animal up-gradation services-artificial insemination and stud bull services have been setup in the area to provide the commercial services to the dairy PGs. Comprehensive awareness through organizing village base camps also being provided to address the issue related to minor health treatment of cattle. For extension of breed improvement services AT India has developed collaboration with Uttarakhand Live Stock development Board (ULDB) specifically to train local youths in conducting the AI and to provide the high quality stud bulls to the selected local persons. As of now 13 Artificial Insemination Services Centers and 22 Stud bull Service Centers are operation in the area. The trained AI Service providers have so far conducted 1345 artificial inseminations with a 55% success rate of conception. The BSPs as noted above are trained by ULDB who now provides minor veterinary services to dairy PGs on commercial basis. A total of 1723 veterinary service camps to raise awareness among the farmers have been conducted to date and a total of 18,893 animals repeatedly vaccinated against frequently occurring diseases.

4. Composting Services
Composting is the integral part of mountain framing for which the animal husbandry is inseparable activities for almost all villagers. AT India has been facilitating the adoption of improved vermi-culture composting techniques. The starter-worms are now available through a group of 47 commercial providers (rearers). The composting technology demonstrations have a direct impact on farming in terms of optimal/increased production and in preserving the traditional genetic pool, encouraged by growing organic products. One of the significant impact that was noticed by the framers is the reduction in the white grub attack in the crop and reduction of work load of women due to its light weight and easy to carry in the field, in comparison of kaccha gobar, for application

5. Output Services: Marketing Services
In addition to input services, participating dairy PGs have been assisted in creating the sustainable milk marketing by 72 sub-collectors of milk and 13 major milk collectors. The network of Dairy PGs with output service providers has been resulted in creation of 11 small milk grids at different semi urban locations to augment the sale of milk. The creation of collection and distribution services have ensured a significant monthly average income of 5,435 INR for sub collectors, 10,432 INR month for the major collectors) for the milk grid managers. These are extremely significant increases in incomes for this region or for that matter any part of India. The network has facilitated a significant increase in combined sale of milk from an initial pre-project 90 liters to 11,000 liters per day.