13 Nov WS Students Meet Up With NDRI Scientists To Help Villagers
Students who are actively engaged in community engagement at Dunda and Nikurchi villages have discovered that that farmers in the area are finding it hard to make ends meet because of frequently failing harvests of their cash crops. In an effort to improve the farmer’s lot, our students have been consulting with scientists from the National Dairy Research Institute.
“A group of students first visited NDRI in Karnal to explore the possibility of facilitating expert advice and assistance to the farmers which would give them alternate sources of income. Professor Srivastava, Vice Chancellor of NDRI, was very appreciative of the efforts of the Woodstock School team and arranged for a team of scientists to visit Woodstock to study the situation.”-Sanjaya Mark, Director, Community Engagement.
On visiting Dunda with our students, the scientists first took a tour of the village to study the condition of the buffalo and cows; then they interviewed the farmers. A significant amount of time was spent by the scientists on discussing their findings and proposing new strategies to improve cattle management and increase milk production.
Together with the farmers, the team of Woodstock students learned that it is important that farmers strive to nurture cattle which have a maximum yield of milk and for as much part of the year as possible. The practice of artificial insemination was strongly encouraged and farmers were told to seek the services of the Uttarakhand Livestock Department. It was surprising for the Woodstock team to find out that the farmers rely almost entirely on grass over the monsoon as cattle-feed. Again, they were encouraged to improve the nutritional value of cattle-feed with the inclusion of a variety of grains, salt, jaggery and other ingredients. The shelters currently being used for the animals are substandard and do not allow for adequate ventilation. Most shelters tested high for ammonia content which is one of the chief causes of disease, especially for lactating cattle. These infections are passed on through their teats into the milk. The farmers were also given suggestions on marketing strategies and on procedures for making milk products such and ghee and paneer (cottage cheese).
At the end of the meeting with the farmers it was evident that they would benefit from training in good dairy farming practices. The scientists offered to hold a week long training period for the farmers at NDRI during January or February when the farmers in Uttarakhand are not too busy. The farmers and the team from Woodstock School are now planning for this. Woodstock has been holding special fund raising events to fund this training. It is hoped that a group of students from Woodstock will be able to attend at least the introductory session of the training for the first batch of 20 farmers it plans to sponsor.
This article is based on student feedback and conversations with the Director of Community Engagement.