Making the Connect: Small Holder Dairy Farming and the Risk of Zoonoses
Odisha's contribution to India's milk basket is insignificant with majority of milk produced on
farms with marginal to small landholdings of > 2 hectares with 3-4 animals. An estimated 5% of total marketable supply is handled by the formal sector, the cooperatives with balance managed through an informal network of middlemen.
Mukhiya Chatembar Bhoi and his wife are small dairy farmers who live in a peri-urban setting in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha
They have 7 cows but most of them are in poor health
Ramchander Behara is a middleman who has been visiting the village for nearly two decades and is a trusted confidante of the families, especially with respect to upkeep of their cattle.
It is he who comes every morning to milk the cows and review their health
Behara collects the milk in bottles, makes the daily payment @Rs25 a litre, puts them in carry bags and loads them on his motorcycle, taking them 22 kms away to a milk dairy where he sells the same.
The community has no money to buy fresh cows from animal traders or animal fairs. They have just as much cattle as they can produce. So if their cows are not healthy, the calves they give birth to will also be impoverished and diseased.
It is not a community that is very knowledgeable about their cattle. The men work as daily wage earners while women take charge of all the cleaning, feeding and rearing functions. In case of sickness or disease, it is the middleman who takes charge, administering medicines (antibiotics) or calling a private vet.
The meagre cattle feed that they can manage is from their own agricultural activity which is another reason for their cattle being impoverished
There is urgent need to educate these peri urban dairy farmers on healthy farm practices and to link them with government schemes to enable them have a better livelihood