IAEA projects strengthen research capacities and dairy development in Bangladesh

Strategic supplementation of forages has improved milk yield by 30% and live weight gain of cattle by 12% that has resulted in an income increase of US$ 35 per month per small holder farmer....
Our technologies on feeding dairy animals with leguminous forages; tree foliages; UMB and medicated UMB will help overcome one of the big constraints that limits Bangladesh becoming self sufficient in milk production.


The IAEA funded activities on animal production began in 1982 at the Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh through a grant under the coordinated research project (CRP) "Studies on non-protein nitrogen (NPN) and agro-industrial by-products utilisation by ruminants. The CRP link was maintained with IAEA and subsequently we participated in nine IAEA/RCA/TC projects and six CRPs. Successful completion of these projects helped us build a strong on-farm and laboratory research capacity (e.g. Figure 1) that in turn helped us receive research grants from the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council, Dhaka; Ministry of Science and Information & Communication Technology, Bangladesh, Dhaka; Department for International Development (DFID), U.K; and the United State Department of Agriculture, Washington. Altogether the grants amounted to approximately one and half million US dollars and supported small scale market-oriented dairy production system though the development of tools for monitoring AI field services; bull stud management; reduction in animal mortality; insurance of the quality of milk and meat to help farmers negotiate higher prices and for control of zoonotic diseases. The IAEA and other grants for nutritional research resulted in the development of an easy method of supplementing straw with urea (straw soaked in urea water); appropriate feeding systems for buffaloes and cattle; medicated UMB for parasite control; agroforestry systems of livestock production and the use of herbal anti-helmintics in cattle. Furthermore, we successfully used tools such as economic opportunity survey (EOS) and participatory rural appraisal (PRA) to ensure stakeholder participation in the dairy development programmes. Today we are using the developed capacity to collaborate with two government extension departments, one farmers cooperative and two non government organisations (NGOs) to help smallholder, as well as commercial farmers, to improve dairy production in the country.

Institutional impact

Researchers are working in the Field Fertility Clinic Laboratory Laboratory facilities developed through the IAEA and other grants are being used by the scientists and students of the BAU for animal health, production and reproduction research. We now routinely use radioimmunoassay for measurement of milk progesterone and the tool is being used as a service to farmers for the early identification of non-pregnant cows after artificial insemination (AI). Subsequently we developed ELISAs for diagnosis of diseases like foot and mouth diseases, and for assaying progesterone in milk. Artificial insemination data application (AIDA) has been used successfully as a research tools for the management of data in evaluating the AI service quality and we fully participated in the development of AIDA-Asia. This allowed us to adopt the database application for the management of AI field service information. BAU developed capacities for the application of molecular techniques in the genetic characterisation of livestock; laboratory based feed evaluation systems (in vitro and nuclear techniques); feeding systems using unconventional low cost feeds; technologies of urea-molasses blocks (UMB); medicated UMB, integrated rice/forage production and agro forestry livestock production system.

Human resources were developed through IAEA projects and this facilitated the establishment of links with other national and international organisations. The national organisations included are the Department of Livestock Services (DLS) Bangladesh; Bangladesh Milk Producers Cooperative Union (BMPCU) Ltd.; Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) Bangladesh; Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR); Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) and Proshika, the last two organisations are NGOs. Seven faculties from the University of Wisconsin Madison, Wisconsin, USA,  are now collaborating with us in a dairy development project through the USDA and Babcock Institute of International Dairy Research and Development, University of Wisconsin Madison, Wisconsin, USA and research is being made in collaboration with the University of Reading and a private firm of U.K., under the financial assistance of the DFID, U.K., where the DLS, DAE and NGOs have been associated with the testing, validation and extension of the technologies of UMB; medicated UMB; rice/forage production; box baling of hay and straw; homestead forage and agro-forestry for livestock production to the rural farmers.

For DLS, we tested all the resident bulls in the stud for tuberculosis, brucellosis, campylobacteriosis and trichomoniasis and for the first time in Bangladesh animals were tested according to official OIE guidelines. The protocols developed are now in place allowing a routine examination of animals for semen-borne and transboundary diseases. This test capacity allowed the DLS to precede one step further towards fulfilment of the WTO's requirements in participating in the global livestock and livestock product markets. We used the cooperative networks of BMPCU Ltd. for the development and testing of tools such as milk progesterone RIA, AIDA Asia and a database application for guiding a community based cattle health care service. The service delivery model included the provision to veterinarians of defined forms for routine visits to dairy farms so that a schedule could be followed to ensure both preventive and emergency animal health care (Figure 2). We are delivering on-farm veterinary services to 400 farmers of BMPCU Ltd., and have evaluated the quality of their AI services. We deliver advisory services to BRAC for the development and management of a bull stud and AI field services. We helped in the development of a completely new bull station by the BRAC and have trained more than 400 inseminators who are now working with them. These are private inseminators and some earn as much as US$ 100 per month which is a good for a rural man in Bangladesh.

Impact on Human resource development

The Bangladesh Agricultural University obtained training for its sixteen teaching staff trained through IAEA projects. The training included project planning, implementation and management. Additional trainings included database development and management; progesterone assay; disease diagnosis; molecular techniques in genetic characterisation of livestock; microbial protein synthesis at the field (PD method); feed evaluation using conventional, in vitro and nuclear techniques; UMB preparation and feeding techniques and forage production systems. We participated in IAEA and IAEA/RCA workshops on project formulation; in coordination and consultant meetings and used the opportunities to share ideas with countries having similar livestock production systems. Additionally, five officers of the DLS, the government organisation responsible for the development of livestock nationwide, received training through IAEA. This has resulted in significant improvement of the skills for national bull stud management and AI field services delivery; establishing field and laboratory based feed evaluation techniques and UMB preparation and demonstration techniques. Furthermore, DLS officers received training on laboratory techniques and field demonstrations of the technologies for improving dairy development. IAEA support helped development of BAU and BLRI research capacities on foot and mouth disease.

BAU personnel developed the confidence to organise national and international training workshops in the management of livestock reproduction and management of data on field and laboratory research on the livestock farming. By using the capacity built up through IAEA, USDA and other grants, we have given refresher training courses for 37 inseminators and 82 practicing veterinarians. The technologies developed through the IAEA, DFID and other grants have been demonstrated to approximately 1000 field workers of NGOs and government extension departments and more than 500 unemployed youths. More than 400 new AI technicians have been trained who working now work as private inseminators. The University has personnel with skills on participatory project planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluations such as EOS, PRA and partial budgeting. Through these processes, the first author has greatly improved his skills for delivering expert services in the dairy development projects in Indonesia and Myanmar.

Impact on farmers

Field Fertility Clinic organises fertility camp where veterinarians examine animals with fertility problems The IAEA and other grants supported the capacity to deliver on-farm veterinary services to 2000 farmers in four regions of Bangladesh (Figure 2). We trained these farmers on the profit making dairy farming; primary health care; feeding management with UMB supplementation; reproduction, milking and udder hygiene and newborn health management. Additionally, we have trained farmers on feeding and rearing of small ruminants, dairy and beef cattle whilst maintaining the ecology and soil health. We disseminated the technology of UMB; medicated UMB; production of legume forages in integration with rice and box baling of legume hay and straw, homestead agro-forestry for livestock to farmers by using the DFID and IAEA grants. The farmers accepted the technologies and are reaping the benefits though increased milk yield per cow. The cultivation of legume forages in integration with rice cropping does not displace established cropping patterns, rather it improves soil fertility and consequently increases rice yield. Feeding cows with these forages resulted in a 20 to 26 percent increase in milk production. With box-baling, the farmers are drying legume forages to make compact hay bales (Figure 3) and storing these for subsequent feeding to their cows throughout the year. Dissemination of UMB (Figure 4) and medicated UMB has enabled the farmers to adopt these technologies and they are getting benefits of increased milk yield (26 to 33%). Trained farmers are now cultivating high quality tree forage around their homesteads (Figure 5). Strategic supplementation of forages has improved milk yield by 30% and live weight gain of cattle by 12% that has resulted in an income increase of US$ 35 per month. Agroforestry systems of livestock production have been estimated to have given 2 hours per day job opportunities. Women are increasingly involved in managing these trees and feeding animals.

Impact on overall dairy development

Box baled hay for storage and feeding dairy cow Research published in 2000 reported that there was a  41.2 ml/day per capita availability of milk compared to the daily requirement of 250 ml in Bangladesh. This means milk production needs to grow by 4.2 - 5.6% per annum if is to meet the increased demand of an expected 1.6% population growth by 2010. Given the prospect of such a high growth rate in the dairy industry, there is an opportunity for recruitment of many smallholder producers and others involved in milk processing and marketing. In another investigation we found that management improvements directed towards increasing average milk production per cow per day; increasing lactation length; decreasing age to first calving and decreasing calving interval,  could expect to yield an average income increase of between US$676.3 to $1730.6 depending on the milk producing area of Bangladesh.

UMB prepared by farmers to feed dairy cows The feeding systems develped increased milk yield on average by 26%. These systems would have a strong impact on milk production if applied nationwide. Our technologies on feeding dairy animals with leguminous forages; tree foliages; UMB and medicated UMB will help overcome one of the big constraints that limits Bangladesh becoming self sufficient in milk production. The Box-baling system of storing dried legume forages could reduce the serious shortage of forage in lean periods and help maintain milk yields of cows throughout the year. Feeding UMB could lead to a significant increase in milk production and a 30 - 90 day reduction in the calving interval depending on the production system. The UMB technology produced a cost-benefit ratio of 1:4.

Our on-farm reproductive health management services identified 13% non pregnant cows, which were assumed to be pregnant and 17% of animals cycling that were considered anoestrous by farmers. These cows usually are not inseminated so that if they were identified routinely by an on farm veterinary service, the number of inseminations would increase by 30%. Our refreshment training to inseminators has, so far, increased the conception rate by 2.9%. Bangladesh currently perfoms 17 million inseminations each year. This means that there could be 3.4 million more inseminations and 590 thousand additional conceptions using the existing resources of AI services if the reproductive health management and inseminators training programme is adopted nationwide.

Farmers cultivate various tree forages around homestead for feeding livestock Farmers in Khulna-Satkhira, the South-Western Region of Bangladesh, used to produce about 30 thousand litres milk per day. This milk did not have any formal market and the farmers were about to give up dairying. We organised farmers in the form of an association, empowered them to work as a pressure group on the government. The government finally extended the Bangladesh Milk Producers Cooperative Union (BMPCU) Ltd., to Khulna-Satkhira. The BMPCU Ltd. is a government coop, which is responsible for the collection, processing and selling milk. Now Khula-Satkhira People has a formal market to sell milk.

We have for the first time objectively determined the conception rate of AI by examining 8000 cows, that can be used as the national references. Our IAEA supported project also helped us determine that bulls under Bangladesh conditions can be selected for semen production at 18 months. The DLS bull stud used to select bulls at an age of 24 months or more in some cases. This will help the national bull station earn an additional income of US$ 1000.00 per bull and the The national Bull Stud rears about 150 bulls. All these activities are expected to have strong impact on the over all dairy development in Bangladesh.

In conclusion, IAEA research grants produced a strong impact on building research capacities at the Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh as well as on livestock development and dairy farmers economy in Bangladesh.