Giriraj Singh’s unique biogas model has helped farmers in this village in Gujarat earn more

The animal husbandry ministry provided biogas plants to houses having milch animals and bought the slurry in return. The ministry claims it has increased the farmers’ income by three times

Arvind Shukla
| Updated: January 21st, 2020

Anand/New Delhi

Rameela Ben, heading a family of five, had decided to sell off all four of her buffaloes in order to start some other work. Usually, only one or two out of the four buffalo yielded milk while every animal had to be fed well. But now she has changed her mind as she has begun to earn more from dung than their milk.

Rameela Ben, 47, is a resident of Jakariyapura village in Anand district’s Borvad taluka where Giriraj Singh, the Union Minister of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, had initiated a pilot project providing gobar gas plants in the houses that kept milch animals and buying slurry (the liquid residue from the plants). The animal husbandry department claims that it has increased the farmers’ income by three times.

To understand the model of income from cow dung, Gaon Connection travelled to Jakariyapura, which is about 1,200 kms from Delhi. In Jakariyapura’s Borvad taluka’s Dahewan Gram Panchayat, every house is seen with buffaloes and biogas plants. For the past several decades, dairying has been a chief source of income for the people here.

The National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) has installed biogas plants in every household with animals towards the total cost of Rs 1.2 crore. Each plant cost about Rs 25,000 and the daily composite slurry yield is of about 22 thousand litres.

The village which rears buffaloes predominantly provides 450 litres of milk, on an average, daily to Amul. As per the NDDB, the village manages to earn only Rs 66 lakh by sale of milk. Amul now also buys slurry from the farmers.

A biogas plant in Jakariyapura village

Talking about how to treble farmers’ income through Jakariyapura model, minister Giriraj Singh explained: “In Jakariyapura, 368 out of the 431 households rear animals. The average annual income of a villager used to be around Rs 17,935. After the biogas plants installation, Amul has been roped in to purchase the slurry, which is made into value-added organic fertilizer. This has also provided direct and indirect livelihood to many.”

Each villager has his/her own point to contribute to gobar economics. Jakariyapura resident Nattu Parmar, 55, said: “Biogas has many benefits — free cooking gas, no tree is to be felled for firewood, women’s labour and annual firewood expense of Rs 15, 000 be spared. Those who had two animals could produce 2-3 trolly loads of manure annually, which used to sell for Rs 4,000-5,000, but now one gets Rs 2,000-3,000 monthly from the slurry.”

In its first phase, the Jakariyapura model shall be introduced to each village associated with the 33 district milk cooperatives of Gujarat before taking it nationwide.

Highlighting the future of farming in the value addition to gobar (dung), Singh informed: “If I consider Jakariyapura model in the entire country’s perspective, I feel that it could revolutionize the Indian farming. The estimated price to be fetched by the annual production of organic fertilizer from Jakariyapura slurry is Rs 107 crore, which shall provide GST (Goods and Services Tax) worth Rs 10 crore to the government. Even if we begin with just the milk cooperatives of the country, we’d have 2.5 lakh milk cooperatives and two crore members associated with them. If we begin working in clusters on slurry, the projected slurry production would be of 44.5 million tonnes, producing organic fertilizer worth Rs 3,44,000 crore fetching us a GST of Rs 30,000 crore.”

Giriraj Singh, the Minister of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, during an interview with Gaon Connection team

As per the report of animal husbandry ministry, the Jakariyapura model has the potential of becoming the leading source of livelihood in India. The project has targeted providing livelihood to 21 people per 100 households. As per the ministry and the NDDB, currently, 16 people were provided livelihood under the project, which would generate an annual income of about Rs 41 lakh. Giriraj Singh said: “When implemented throughout the country, the model shall provide livelihood to about 22 lakh people.”

Giriraj Singh, who was visibly excited about the project, said: “Animal husbandry is one such sector where investment of a rupee fetches about Rs 4. When I was given the charge of the newly-formed animal husbandry ministry, I talked to the officials at multiple levels and went through the records. For the year 2017-18, the farmers’ income from the main crops of paddy and wheat was about Rs 4 lakh crore whereas Rs 6.14 lakh crore were generated from milk alone. Still, the farmers suffer. So, going beyond milk, I initiated the work on animal by-products, the result of which is self-evident.”

The dairy farmers can benefit in numerous ways by installing biogas plants. Two years ago, the NDDB had conducted a successful model to this effect. The NDDB had formed women cooperative in Mujkuwa village of Anand’s Ankalav taluka and provided them with subsidised biogas plants. Hema Ben, 37, said: “I have 10 cows and buffaloes whose dung, when fed to the biogas plant, supplies me with gas equivalent to three LPG cylinders; that too in a month. Our family has 10 members — everyone’s food is cooked using the same biogas, thrice a day. We save Rs 1,500-2,100 upon gas charges and the slurry, we use on our fields.”

So, the focus of the animal husbandry ministry to augment farmers’ income is not milk, but, in fact, cow dung. Discussing the possibilities in dung economics, Giriraj Singh said: “While it is true that farmers’ income can be enhanced more rapidly with animal than conventional farming, it cannot be achieved through dairy farming alone. Dung shall produce biogas, which would save upon LPG, animals shall provide milk and dung and the slurry may be used as worm feed, which, in turn, can be fed to the chicken. Dung can similarly assist in pisciculture — it is no rocket science. I have simply focused on dung and linked it to the agri-base.”

In its first phase, the Jakariyapura model shall be introduced to each village associated with the 33 district milk cooperatives of Gujarat

As per Giriraj Singh, it is the keen endeavour of the animal husbandry ministry to make milk a byproduct of the farmer with cow dung and cow urine as chief products that are value added. He informed: “There would be many who’d disagree with me today when I proclaim this, but I am sure enough to prove it.”

Talking about the possibilities in animal husbandry, RS Sodhi, managing director of Amul, said: “If the Indian villages are to raise their income, they would have to look towards animal husbandry because 12-14% of the agricultural GDP (gross domestic product) comes from animal husbandry and even the agriculture and animal husbandry growth patterns support this. The annual agricultural growth is 3%, whereas the animal husbandry growth is 20%. Also, there is a hike in demand for protein and fat due to increase in population.

India has led the world in production of milk and cattle population for the past several years. However, the other aspect of it is that per animal yield of India is quite low. As per the 20th Livestock Census, India has about 30 crore milch animals with 14.51 crore cows, out of which only 12 crore 50 lakh yield milk. So, a large segment of the animal population neither yields milk nor serve the farmers and is, in fact, stray. These strays pose a serious problem to the farmers in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Singh said: “80% animals in India yield less than 20 litres of milk. If the net profit of milk is considered, a farmer earns only Rs 5-6 per litre. So, if in a complete lactation cycle, a cow yields 4,000 litres of milk, a farmer would barely be able to earn Rs 20,000 to 24,000 whereas dung is produced daily which can augment the farmer’s income.”

He also hailed gobar management to be the key to resolving the problem of stray animals. “I would bring about a change so that no one would ever let go of one’s animal. The animal called stray now would then be able to support others; from two such animals any farmer or youth would be able to earn Rs 10,000-15,000 monthly.”

Seeing a rising demand for the organic food items across the globe, a huge market for organic fertilizers is also being created

When asked how would two animals generate such an income, the minister said: “I have carried out numerous observations in Jakariyapura. Besides providing income through dung, I started the facility for cow urine collection. We provided chicken to 10 households, which have been reared towards no extra cost to the farmers. Besides, I aim to link poultry and goat farming with this because the same can be done to increase the income without having to spend extra.”

Hailing low input poultry farming as the future and the world’s need, the minister shared: “The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization has warned India that by 2050, our population will reach such a level that we may not be able to raise enough foodgrains for us, let alone the animals, so, in such a situation, zero cost farming of poultry, fishes and small animals would support us.”

Meenesh Shah, the executive director of the NDDB, said: “Besides improving the milk yield and breed of the animals, we have also begun working upon cowdung. Its benefit is that it provides free cooking gas. The slurry also sells for 75 paise to Rs 2. If one doesn’t sell the slurry, one gets top quality organic manure, which is in high demand.”

Seeing a rising demand for the organic food items across the globe, a huge market for organic fertilizers is also being created. Through its dung project, the animal husbandry department wishes to seek newer opportunities with organic fertilizer and to divest itself of dependency on other nations as well as the subsidies on the chemical fertilizers.

The minister said: “In 2018-19, the consumption of NPK (chemical fertilizer) was of about Rs 35,182,000 (around Rs 3.5 crore). We are hoping to meet 40-45% demand of NPK through the fertilizer made out of the slurry. Besides, we have also directed the NDDB to look out for potential markets worldwide for the fertilizer made by us. If this materializes, the entire landscape of animal farmers and the dairy would transform.”