Originally published on January 25, 2017.
This story of Abul Hossain has many themes – higher productivity and profitability, new farm design, investment in a bigger herd, borrowing and successful repayment, and most importantly lifting Abul and his family out of poverty.
Bangladesh Dairy Enhancement Project (BDEP) is funded by USDA as part of its Food for Progress initiative. BDEP undertakes on-farm training to address the real issues limiting productivity and profitability of the dairy farming sector. Local smallholder farmers find the approach workable, effective and fruitful for their farms to achieve higher productivity in terms of milk volume, quality and regular calving, and they are gaining the financial reward.
One such farmer is Mr. Abul Hossain of Ataroi Ziyala Village in Satkhira, Southwestern Bangladesh. Abul has strongly adopted the BDEP approach of whole farm management and he is now gaining reward. Mr. Hossain is a poor rickshaw-van driver who had only one cow when he started; but now he has seven cows including two calves; three of them are pregnant including a heifer; Abul’s total milk volume is now 50 liters per day, of which 25 liters comes from just a single cow which gave birth to a female calf recently. He has improved his cow shed incorporating separate troughs for feed and water, and his cows are kept un-tied which Abul learned from the BDEP demonstration farm established in his locality.
From the very beginning when BDEP started its feed trial at Ziyala, Abul Hossain was very interested in the innovative and very different dairy farming practices demonstrated by BDEP. As an early adopter, he feeds his cow in a separate trough, rather than mixing water and feed in one trough as is the traditional approach in Bangladesh. Some other farmers found this impossible to believe, illustrating how different the BDEP approach is from traditional practices. But Abul was determined to try the new farm management systems. He started to provide his cow improved concentrate and chopped maize fodder which are available at BDEP’s Mini-Agribusiness located at the doorstep of farmers to ensure ready access and the use of quality ingredients. Abul had faith in BDEP’s philosophy, and milk production from his cross-breed cow soon increased from seven liters to eleven.
Abul used to depend for income on a three wheel motorized van and on his one-cow farm. When he saw the increase in profitability of dairy farming made possible through the more productive BDEP practices, he took loans of Tk.300,000 from a local credit organization and a middleman to purchase a further four cows. Already Abul has repaid Tk. 230,000 of these loans, a fantastic performance. Once Abul can complete repayment of the remaining balance Tk.70,000, he will be able to invest additional sums into growing his herd size, and he will be free to sell all his milk to the nearby MCC, which he is supplying partially at present. He has decided not to continue his old job of rickshaw-van pulling, to devote his full effort and time to his dairy farm, and will stop this very soon. Abul Hossain is delighted with the improvement in his family’s life achieved with the support of BDEP.