For hundreds of landless households in Bihar’s Munger district, a new experiment in goat breeding by an American university, is giving them reasons to cheer. Cornell University is running a project on artificial insemination in goats, which is not only helping produce better variety of goats but also reducing morbidity rates and mitigating diseases. All this is giving better returns to livestock-dependent landless families and helping achieve the goal of better nutrition.
Dr Prabhu Pingali, the founding Director of Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition (TCI) said, “The initiative is driven by the Tata-Cornell Institute of Agriculture & Nutrition (TCI) program Technical Assistance and Research for Indian Nutrition and Agriculture (TARINA). TARINA is focused on adding goats into the production system of the farmers in India. The challenge is not just in improving livestock productivity, but also in developing and promoting value chains. Intensifying small ruminants can be important pathway for targeting diet diversity at household level among marginal farmers.”
TARINA’s partner BAIF Development Research Foundation has established a technical facility in Pune where different buck breeds, such as Black Bengal, Sangamneri, Beetal, and Osmanabadi are stationed. Artificially inseminating the goats with better quality bucks improves the genetic material and avoids the condition of being diseased.
“TARINA is focused on increasing the productivity of goat industry in Bihar and doubling incomes of farmers, who are the primary owners of goats. New innovation and technology like Artificial Insemination is the need of the hour. It has not only reduced the disease rates in goats but has significantly enhanced community involvement in livestock,” said Dr Nikhil Raj, Director of TARINA.
TCI-TARINA has established four AI centers in Munger, Bihar, with trained AI technicians to help goat keepers and spread awareness on the need for breed improvement. The services are being delivered at the doorstep of farmers at cost of ₹25 per AI in TARINA villages and ₹50 per AI in non-TARINA villages and have been gradually gaining ground and acceptance.
“We had been long using traditional methods of breeding, but when we got to know about AI through cluster meetings, and awareness camps, we thought of introducing AI in our goats. Through AI, we can better ensure the quality of breed selection and reduce morbidity. We have attended various training sessions and have an increased knowledge of AI, care of pregnant goats, etc.” said Pramila Devi, a goat keeper from Panchrukhi village.
“AI services are available at the doorstep, and it leads to better quality of breed selection. This method also eliminates the chances of disease transmission. For goat farmers, this method has helped us address morbidity among goats,” said a goat keeper Bipin Yadav of Amari village in Munger.
AI is making positive impact in Bangalwa, Saradhi, Sawaiya, Bourna, Amari, Sarobagh, Dashrathpur and Matadih villages in the district. TCI-TARINA is increasing its efforts to raise awareness in more villages by conducting awareness camps, rallies, and campaigns to discuss the need for breed improvement and the advantages of artificial insemination.