Holistic Approach Gives Farmers Better Profit

Farmers in BangladeshShortcomings in animal nutrition, health, and reproduction and breeding have all been identified as constraints to optimal productivity of livestock systems in developing countries. Past CRP of the APHS have generally concentrated on one of these three general areas and have obtained satisfactory results in controlled studies. For example, feed supplementation has been shown to increase milk yield, progesterone measurement radioimmunoassay (RIA) has improved reproductive management, and administration of vaccines has helped decrease disease incidence. However, the uptake and use of such technologies by wider communities of farmers, farmer organizations and livestock extension services has been less than expected.

Discussion of farm record keeping in ParaguayThe major reason for this limited uptake of the technologies was a failure to demonstrate to the farmer their advantages in economic terms. In addition, previous initiatives failed to show the farmer the real gains that could be made by applying several technologies, because they focused on only one constraint at a time, and other concurrent problems limited the economic benefits. Therefore, a special CRP (D3.10.23) was developed, with the objective of applying an integrated approach that addresses simultaneously the major constraints limiting productivity and profitability of animal production systems, particularly in small-holder peri urban dairy farms.

Ten scientists on three continents have participated in this CRP. The CRP has involved four major activities. First, participatory approaches were used to identify the main constraints in each farming system. Then, economic opportunity surveys were conducted to prioritize the constraints and identify those constraints for which intervention would likely yield the greatest economic return. Next, multiple interventions were proposed and applied to address the constraints simultaneously. Demonstration of the California Mastitis Test to farmers in Peru In the final stage the economic feasibility of the interventions has been evaluated, by comparing farm income before and after the interventions.

The project is now drawing to a close and the first results from economic analyses have been obtained. According to the preliminary data, application of the interventions chosen was highly successful. Depending on the country and the activity undertaken, farmers reaped a return ranging between $0.20 and $7.00 for every dollar spent on interventions. The goal of the current stage of the project is to sustain the application of the interventions on the participating farms without the financial support from the Agency and spread the practice to neighboring farms.