On 1 June, members of the MilkIT project advisory council held their first meeting in Dehradun. Nils Teufel of the International Livestock Research Institute introduced the project and its intended activities.
The subsequent question and answer session generated lively exchanges; the main questions – with answers – included:
1. What is the meaning of “innovation platform”?
- It’s about to bringing together experiences of a variety of stakeholders on
- dairy marketing, feed support , knowledge sharing and innovation/change
- regarding how to test & adapt these innovations.
- Innovation platforms are not only a discussion forum and not just an extension activity.
2. What will be the project output in Dec 2014 and who will receive it?
- As a research project, papers and reports will be major outputs, with IFAD being the first recipient.
- Research outputs will be aligned with the demands of donors and partners.
- Documentation of processes and results will enable global and local use.
- Documentation of establishment and success/failure of innovation platforms will be a major output. Induced changes will be a main indicator.
3. What will be language of dissemination?
- Main audience will be institutions. Therefore, first language will be English.
- However, for local institutions documents in Hindi will also be prepared.
4. What will be done to reduce livestock impact on forests?
- Feed requirements, current sources & opportunities will be assessed with FEAST
- General land-use change will not be a focus of MilkIT because of its short duration
- More efficient use of existing resources will probably emphasise farm products and labour efficiency (reducing forest use)
- Himmothan has already experience with introducing winter fodder. Forest use has already decreased.
5. How can MilkIT improve green fodder supply when the project is only 32 months and most green fodder comes from trees which yield only after 3-5 years?
- MilkIT will prioritise technologies (with the help of Techfit) which yield fast effects (no planting campaigns, no focus on breed improvement).
- More efficient use of existing feeds will be focus (supplementation, chopping) and wider use of under-utilised resources (grass-lands).
6. How will feed-related problems be identified? How will local capacity & willingness for adoption be considered?
- Innovation platforms will improve communication.
- Specific tools (e.g. Techfit) will enable efficient discussion.
7. What will be main project indicators, milk yield?
- Milk yield will be important, but profitability and labour returns will also be main indicators.
- Improved productivity will decrease pressure on forests.
8. How will other aspects of productivity be considered (breed, health) and who will be doing this?
- Within the project period no major breed improvement effects can be expected.
- But we know that local cows are being replaced with buffaloes.
- Feed improvements offer greater effect in improved animals with less labour.
- Where health issues are important we include local institutions in platform.
- How will the variation between households and animals be considered?
- MilkIT will only target groups (e.g. SHGs), not individual households/animals
- At the platform level discussions will have to consider for which type of households/animals technologies are suitable.
- When documenting effects we will have to collect household/animal data.
9. How is MilkIT going to compete with strong local dairy organisations?
- We will map which institutions are working on which issues.
- The innovation platforms will bring all relevant and willing actors together as a complementary activity.
- We are aware that compared to local institutions MilkIT will only show a brief appearance and cannot compete.
After reviewing work plans, members formed three groups discussing:
- Innovation platforms: “How can innovation platforms support development and dissemination of new technologies for dairy development?”
- Marketing constraints: “What are you most interested in for overcoming institutional and marketing constraints in the dairy sector?”
- Feeding constraints: “What should MilkIT produce to help with improving productivity of dairy animals among small holders through better feeding, breeding & health?”
The project is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). It started in January 2012 and runs for three years