BAIF helps 69,000 villages to increase income levels through dairy husbandry

Dairy farming is a reliable source of livelihood for small and marginal farmers, who are unable to earn substantial income from agriculture. India has the largest cattle population in the world, but the average milk yield is less than 900kg per lactation. This is due to severe genetic erosion, resulting in poor quality animals, poor health care and acute shortage of feed. Such low quality cattle and buffaloes are uneconomical for their owners. To transform this problem into an opportunity, BAIF provides breeding and critical support services at the doorstep of poor farmers to produce high quality animals.

Objective: Dairy farming is a traditional practice and it has proven potential to provide food and nutritional security to the rural poor. As it is an opportunity to convert liabilities into assets, rural families are motivated to cross breed their low yielding, decrepit cattle with genetically superior exotic or native breeds, while conserving elite native breeds. The new born high yielding cows and buffaloes are a reliable source of livelihood, even in drought-prone areas.

Coverage: This is a flagship programme of BAIF, which was started in the early 70’s.  Presently, the programme is benefiting over 4.4 million families through a network of over 2,600 cattle development centres spread over 69,000 villages in 12 states. Each centre covering 10-12 villages in a radius of 10kms is operated by a local youth, who holds a Diploma in Agriculture or Animal Husbandry and is trained to provide services such as artificial insemination, vaccination, minor veterinary care, as well as training in forage production and good feeding practices. BAIF’s Central Research Station at Urulikanchan maintains elite bulls of improved exotic and Indian native breeds of cattle and buffaloes to produce frozen semen, which is then supplied to these centres.  Farmers are also advised on good management practices through a series of training programmes. The milk produced is collected by the local farmer organisations and sold to dairies.

Funding: Initial capital cost for establishing a livestock development centre is around Rs1.5lakhs and the annual recurring cost is around Rs1.25lakhs. The programme is sponsored by the Ministry of Rural Development, Farmers’ Cooperatives, corporate houses and even self-funded by collecting the entire service charge from farmers availing breeding services.

These centres are generally sponsored for a period of 5-10 years.  Subsequently, BAIF continues the services, either with the support of the donors or by collecting service charges from the farmers.

•    Over 50% of the rural families are benefitted in the operational areas;
•    The programme enables farmers to produce high yielding cows and buffaloes using inferior quality livestock already owned by the farmers without any additional capital investment;
•    Each home-born cow and buffalo is valued at Rs30,000-Rs35,000, and when it comes into milk production at the age of three years, it yields 2,200-2,800kg milk per lactation and generates a surplus of Rs9,000-Rs10,000 per year.  A family can earn over Rs30,000 per year with three crossbred cows and remain above poverty;
•    With high yielding animals, the farmers tend to reduce the herd size and adopt stall feeding, which in turn reduces the pressure on fodder supply and global warming. With increase in dung collection, farmers are encouraged to install biogas plants and take up organic farming;
•    This provides an excellent opportunity for women to earn their livelihood and ensures a nutritional supplement, particularly for their children;
•    The crossbred males are ready for tillage operations and transportation, by the age of 24 to 30 months. Door-to-door services have ensured closer mentoring of the backward farmers.   
•    Presently, 0.8 million cows and buffaloes are under milk production, producing milk worth Rs2800 crores per annum. As the demand for milk in India is expected to rise from 98 million tons to 180 million tons by 2022, there is good scope to expand the programme across the country, while ensuring gainful self-employment and food security for small farmers.


What kind of jobs can I look for after attending the ‘SBI Youth for India’ Fellowship Programme?

The SBI Youth for India Program is a unique and a great initiative by State Bank of India. Considering the fact that around 70% of Indian population still lives in rural areas across thousands of villages in the country, it is not hard to imagine how useful and relevant this programme is.

President Barack Obama in his recent address in Mumbai particularly mentioned that India and US can very effectively cooperate in the agricultural space besides manufacturing, infrastructure etc. He clearly indicated the need and importance of improving the process of economic upliftment in the rural sector and of creating more jobs and opportunities in the sector.

Incomes in the rural sector have been growing steadily and will continue to grow as well as aspirations and needs of people, young and old. There are very few businesses, which will not have grown in the rural areas and almost all companies and businesses are gearing up, if not already done, to address this very important segment of the Indian society.

Organisations and industrial sectors which have direct focus in the rural area fall into various categories, which are:

Agri Inputs: Fertilisers, seeds, pesticides, farm equipments, modern irrigation methods etc.
FMCG and consumer durables: Encompasses very diverse businesses starting from apparels, footwear, personal and hygiene products, drinks and beverages, confectionery, electronic consumer items etc.
Transport: Automobile, trucks, two wheelers
Communication: Telecom services, mobile sets
IT: Hardware and software, web-based services
Education and publication: Schools, colleges, vocational institutes etc
Healthcare: Hospitals, clinics, retail of medicines, insurance services
Banking: Retail banking

Ravi Bhatia, MD, Gilbert Tweed AssociateThere are a host of other businesses but the above would be the most important where immediate growth is inevitable.

– Ravi Bhatia, Managing Director, Gilbert Tweed Associates

MS Swaminathan, father of India’s green revolution calls for partnership rather than patronage in rural India

Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation used to say that India lives in its villages and that Gram Swaraj (village self rule) is the pathway to Purna Swaraj (Complete self rule or Freedom). He also used to exhort young women and men about the need for ending the divorce between intellect and labour in rural India. This means that we must marry brain and brawn in village professions. The Indian Youth could contribute by bringing about such a marriage.

Programme Fellows have to understand the opportunities available in our villages for being of help in strengthening the livelihood security of rural women and men and the ecological security of rural areas. Since usually we have two monsoons, namely, southwest and northeast monsoons, it is important to spend at least one year in villages to understand the relationship between climate and the lives of the people.

The leadership qualities needed are a seeing eye and an understanding heart. Above all, they should approach the villagers with a sense of humility. The method of working should be partnership and not patronage.

If all the above criteria are fulfilled, youth can take our villages ahead to the 21st Century and foster agrarian prosperity and rural regeneration.

MS Swaminathan

Do you want to be a Real Leader?

Real Leaders are ordinary people, with an extra-ordinary vision and determination. The search for Real Leaders has never been easy. The launch of the “SBI Youth for India” Fellowship Programme marks the beginning of a journey to identify India’s Real leaders  – young men and women who seek to understand India better, care for its people and lead the change for a better for India.

50 young men and women will be selected from across India and trained to take up the challenge of becoming Real Leaders through a transformational experience in the heart of ‘Real India’ – ie rural India, which is home to 70% of India’s population.  ‘SBI Youth for India’ invites outstanding young professionals and graduates to commit a year to rural India and work on projects with experienced NGOs to catalyse rural development.  Join the movement to transform yourself, and rural India.


Will you be bitten by a snake? No, instead you would be gripped by a whole new world and the raw intelligence of an Indian village. You would learn about life in India’s villages, the customs and traditions and how they impact development. You will also learn what plagues the rural economy and how value can be created at the ‘bottom of the pyramid’.  And much more. In essence you will know about what matters, if India is to become a truly developed nation, and what it will take to get there.

The metamorphosis starts as and when you are selected. Think of your most impressive self and apply here. The applications will be evaluated by a team of experts. Once you are selected you will be trained for your journey to the rural set up. Your aptitudes will be assessed and you will be sent to ‘your’ village and ‘your’ NGO, where the process gears up. You will work closely with the NGO and with the help of a mentor you will be educated and trained to touch rural lives. The greatest discovery of all begins here, discovery of your own self — your values and your determination to lead change.


Your real challenge wouldn’t be about how you will adapt to the rural set up. Rather, it will be to think of India as an inclusive country which cannot truly progress, without rural India progressing.  We had 16,196 farmer suicides recorded just two years back. The per capita income in rural areas is Rs 25 per day. Compare it with yours. Not to feel better, but to think better. We have approximately 600,000 villages, 25% of which do not have year-round drinking water and 75% consume water of poor quality. Women suffer from poor reproductive health and deliveries are performed with the assistance of under-trained midwives usually leading to deaths of both mother and child. The average literacy rate is around 50-65% and is as low as 20-25% among women in backward areas.

It is not all blind spots in rural India. Stories of change are innumerable. If it is one Mr Swamy and Mrs Chinni in Purkal, a small village in the foothills of Himalayas, it is a Hirbai Ibrahim Lobi in Jambur, Gujarat. They are the Real heroes of India. And this is your chance to become one. Your country, your chance!