Jai Bhatuji is one of the Self-Help Groups (SHG) of Dabha village, located in Jambusar, Gujarat, which has been developed and facilitated by CARE India. After an exposure visit to Zarola in Anand district, Gujarat, Jai Bhathuji SHG members decided to set up a demonstration of silage, until then an unknown term in that area. Silage, usually made from grass or other green fodder,is fermented under air tight conditions and used as cattle-feed to improve milk production. The group started discussing about silage preparation and its use during SHG meetings.

The SHG members were trained in preparing silage with the support of CARE India. The raw material used was the maize crop and plastic bags to initiate the making of silage. SHG members selected a place to keep the silage bags. They rented a cutting machine using their group savings to cut the maize straws.All the steps of making the silage, which includes cutting the maize straw, filling up the bags, pressing the straws in the bags and packing were done by the SHG members. All 11 members of the SHG participated in making silage, thus saving labour cost. After settling the silage for processing, it was kept for 45 days to undergo the required process of fermentation. In the meantime, members of Jai Bhatuji conducted meetings and estimated the cost of selling silage. When the bags were opened, at first all SHG members used the silage to feed their own cattle. This was the beta testing phase. Their cattle happily consumed the healthy feed, and after about 8 – 10 days of consecutive consumption there was an increase in milk production.

The results of the pilot motivated the group to promote and sell silage at the village level to the community and other SHGs.

Out of 1,616 kg of silage produced, using about 3,500 kg of maize, almost 20 kg was used for internal consumption (the testing phase with one’s own cattle). The rest was sold to other community members and SHGs in the village at INR 61 per kg. Through these sales, members of Jai Bhatuji group earned INR 10,200. They deposited this earning into their SHG bank account, recovering the initial investment made for procuring the machinery.

CARE India introduced silage in the project area for the first time, and supported the group in initiating marketing the product, which in turn helped women to increase their income. The community now accepts silage as a good animal husbandry practice that leads to increased milk production. After this experience,the Jai Bhathuji group is now doing ground work for the next silage preparation, wherein they are planning to grow raw material (maize or other grass fodder) at the village level to cut down the material cost. Additionally, they may go for pit fermentation instead of bag fermentation as it is supposed to improve the quality of silage and its nutritious value.

Jai Bhatuji group members have been recognised and felicitated at the block level Krishi Melas, organised by the government, as key actors in the dairy value chain for their contribution in dairy development through silage. They feel more confident now to handle and experiment different ways of increasing their savings and expanding their sources of income.

The Improved Agriculture and Inclusive Dairy Value Chain Promotion project focusses on the economic empowerment of women smallholders and workers to achieve the goal of long term development in 59 villages of the Jambusar block, Bharuch district in Gujarat.

Posted By : Navneet Kaur
Location : Jambusar, Gujarat