Cattle Farming in Nepal 

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Why Farmers Cry ?

– Suman Pant

– Ram Bahadur Gautam has invested $1.4 million(14 crore NRS) in his Gautamshree  Organic and Cow Farm in Patlekhet village at Kavre district. He has 350 cattle in his herd. But, he is not satisfied in this business. Because, the herd produces only 15 to 18 hundred liter milk a day. ‘This business does not even able to pay my staffs and operation cost,’ he says with bitter feeling ‘how long do I invest ?’

Neither farmers are in good condition nor dairy processors. Both pillars are weak.

– Another side, domestic dairy producers have been facing raw milk scarcity since a couple of years. According to Nepal Dairy Association, local dairy processors have 40% lack of raw milk. So, many of dairy processors import raw milk from India and mix up powder milk to fulfill demand. ‘It’s hard to sustain our industries’ says Sumit Kedia, chairperson of the Association, ‘ Since May 2017, we have been importing raw milk from India to run our factories.’ He has also a leading private dairy, named, SitaRam Gokul Milks Pvt Ltd in Kathmandu. His has been facing pure raw milk scarcity. ‘I too have been doing this idea, because we have no recent alternative,’ he explained.

These two scenarios are a mirror of Nepalese cattle and dairy business. Neither farmers are in good condition nor dairy processors. Both pillars are weak. They have their own ruin to breath.

Nepal is an agricultural countries. Most of farmers like to rear cattle. But, almost farms are in loss. Commercial farmers are also distressed in the work.

Generally, it has become a glamour business not a progressive so far. According to statistics of the Ministry of Livestock Development, there are  7.2 million cattle and 5.4 million buffalo in Nepal. This number could produce plenty of milk, but there is still 0.6 million liter milk scarce. ‘We have 1.9 milk liter production a day whereas demand in 2.4 million liter;’ Dr Yubak Dhwoj G.C., Secretary of Ministry of Livestock development says, ‘the main cause is less productive breed and lack of adequate farm practices.’

There are no pure and upgraded breed in Nepal. Farmers use artificial inception (A.I.) of Holstein and Jersey breed to locally reared cattle. According to Dairy Development Board data, there are 60% of Holstein and 40% of Jersey cattle, though they all are crossbreed.

Though, it is an alternative to gain modern breed, but, the yield is not so satisfactory. Pure breed produces generally 10 thousands liter milk a year, whereas in Nepal, average milking is 500 to 2 thousands liter even with A.I. method.

Farmers Cry

Suman Pant

Obviously, lack of outcomes, almost cattle farms are found commonly loss in Nepal. They have always fear of loan and financial arrangement.

 Progressive farmer, Ram Bahadur Gautam reveals his major problems with; i.e. lack of pure breeding, quality semen for A.I. and nutritional management.

He has collected cattle among various villages. But, he has not any pure breed. He has cross breed gained by AI technology. ‘We have to import pure breed, there is no any option’ he says.

According to Dairy Development Board, there is a very few number of pure breed in Nepal.  ‘Almost less than 5% pure breed’ Deputy executive director of the Board Babukaji Pant says;’ due to lack of pure and productive breed, cattle farms are in loss.’

Cost of feed and lack of herd management system are also a constraint. Generally, commercial farmers use pellet feed to their cattle. But the raw materials are almost imported and the feed price is expensive than milking. In July, cattle feed per kg price is 40 (approx. 40 cent). Feed supplement, medicine and other cost are also should be fed to cattle. But, farmers able to sell milk at same or less than feed cost. Managerial costs are not included here.

There is also hay, silage and and other cheaper feed in practices among developed countries. Nepalese commercial farmers almost rely on imported grain based pellet feed. ‘90% farms provide industrial feed and only 10% farms have grazing based system.’ deputy executive director Pant explained.

Due to lack of grazing land, most farmers are not able to provide good feed to their cattle. The government does not provide subsidy for feed too till date.

Mostly farmers do not prepare concentrated feed because raw materials are expensive for general farmers. They are not able to import and hold big amount of raw grain and feed supplement, so they should purchase from the feed mill and traders.

Almost farms are based on manual practices. Grazing, feeding, cleaning, milking all works are manual. These make cost of production higher.

Lack of manpower is also a great challenge in Nepal. Skilled manpower are not found easily. Daily, about a thousand number of youth go for foreign job, especially in Gulf countries. So, commercial farms have been facing staff crunch. ‘Skilled manpower is a big lacking for us’ says, Pradeep Raj Pant, owner of Destination Agro Farm, a big cattle farm in Bhaktapur says,  ‘Sincere and permanent workers are a rare. Due to migration for gulf and city based job, almost youth workers do not want to be stable in farm job.’

Almost farms suffer from getting perfect medication. ‘Recommended medicines and treatments are not easily available in local markets, ‘ progressive farmer Pradeep shared his experience ‘sometimes, our cattle get die due to lack of proper medication.’

Santosh Subedi, Manager of Kantipur Vet Distributors, Kathmandu says that selecting and distributing of world class vet medicines has also challenges. His company is a leading vet medicine importer and traders of Nepal, but he is not yet satisfied. He says’ we have no easy access to world class leading vet medicine producers directly, we have rely on those companies who come near to us and whom we easily dealt.’

According to Santosh, almost vet medicines import from India and a little amount from western countries like Holland, Germany, Belgium, Italy, USA etc these days. ‘But, import of vet medicines has a big burdens are leakage, breakage and date expiry etc.;’ he explained ‘we do not any compensation and subsidy from the companies, so, we face high risk.’

Export of animal products is not easy and good condition as well. Dairy items and processed meat have good scope for internationally transaction. ‘But, we have no easy access to export’  he bitterly revealed ‘international communities can work together us.’  These days, buffalo meat (buff) is exported to nearby countries but the local companies cannot fulfill demand.

‘ We have plenty of livestock, poultry, farming land but many of internationally recognized companies have not seen Nepalese market.’ vet medicine distributor Santosh says ‘approach to the international market is still under-minded.’

Technical and experienced persons are also rare in the community. ‘Sometimes we weep for not getting a perfect technician at a right time,’ Pradeep said.

It is strictly prohibited cattle for meat (beef) in Hindu culture. There are more than 80% Hindu in Nepal. Cow is worshiped as goddess Laxmi (goddess of wealth). So, male calf and cow management is a very tough for each cow farmers. They should feed them until they die.

‘We progressive farmers need sex semen a must’ Pradeep said, ‘Due to expensive and unavailability in local market we are unable to use this.’

Once, they tried to incept embryo in four mother cow in their farm. But, they couldn’t succeed. Thus, they are searching to incept perfect embryo or female birthing semen.

‘But, import of vet medicines has a big burdens are leakage, breakage and date expiry etc.;’ he explained ‘we do not any compensation and subsidy from the companies, so, we face high risk.’

Production Status

According to Dairy Development Board, there are mostly subsistence level of cattle farming in Nepal. Last year, 2016, 3 thousands and 424 cattle and buffalo farms were registered in Department of Livestock. Among them, 1 thousand 362 farms were small; they have 5 to 10 cattle in the farm. 671 farms have 11 to 20, 285 farms have 21-100 and 10 farms have 1 hundred to 5 hundred cattle in the farm.

Medium and big size dairy industries are 6 hundred in Nepal. But, about 60 percent milk do not go to market. Daily, about 0.8 million liter milk goes to dairy processing. Remaining milk is consumed by farmers and cottage/household dairy in raw level.

Availability of milk is not fulfilled among Nepali consumers as FAO and WHO recommendation. FAO and WHO has recommended Nepali consumers to consume 91 liter every year per person. But, it is available only 67 liter every year per person. ‘If we fulfill as FAO/WHO, we should produce and distribute at least 1.6 million milk every day.’ Babukaji of the Board says’ we have still 0.6 million milk lacking.’

The milk quality is better in Nepal. As Pant says, cow milk has 4 fat and 8 SNF and buffalo milk has 5 fat and 8.2 SNF in average.

Cross breed produces 2,200 to 2,400 and locally reared cattle produce 5 hundred liter milk in a year. ‘Among them, about 1 million cattle are crossed breed whereas 6 million cattle are local which has very little amount of milk.; Pant explained.

Another problem derived by religion in Nepal. Hinduism follower worship cow as Goddess Laxmi. So, they never think of its meat. There are about 80% percent people follow Hinduism. So, ox and non-productive cattle management is a big burden for commercial farmers. A decade ago, oxen were utilized to plough land and cart pulling. These practices are almost eliminated now days. Almost farmers use tractor, power tiller and other machineries. Cart driving is almost forgot in the society. Almost people has access to private vehicle, motorcycle and public transportation like tempo, bus etc. So, sometimes, male calf and non-productive cattle are found in public road. ‘How to arrange them properly, it’s a big problem’ says Gautam.

Governmental initiation 

The Government has been initiating a couple of steps to reduce the problem in cattle farming. ‘Our main focus is to increase productive breed and farmer empowerment’ Secretary of the Ministry of Livestock Development Dr GC says ‘The government has been applying artificial inception (A.I.), forage mission and arrangement of non-milking cattle’.

The government focuses AI mission to each needy farmers. Farmers can apply AI among their cattle in subsidized price. All of governmental livestock service offices and private veterinarians can supply AI services. Productive breed’s semen is incepted to local and less-productive breed with this method. Each year, about 0.6 million cattle get A.I. services.

Besides, the ministry has been testing and applying embryo transformation among  cattle since last year. Productive crossed breed embryo is transformed to other cattle and hence they reproduce better yielding calf. ‘We succeeded to reproduce embryo based calf’ Secretary Dr GC revealed with photographs. This method has 30% success rate as the technician told to the

By the data told by General of the Department of Livestock Dr Bimal Kumar Nirmal, there are 7.2 million cattle and 5.4 million buffalo in Nepal. Among them, only a million number of cattle and 1.2 million buffalo are productive. 0.4 million cattle are crossed breed of Holstein and Jersey. 0.6 million number cattle produce average 2 liter and 0.4 million crossed breed produce average 10 liter a day. Productivity of buffalo is also not good; improved breed gives 5 liter and local breed gives 3 liter milk a day.

To reduce malnutrition, the government has been applying forage mission all over the nation. Cost of milk production is higher than its outcomes in Nepal. So, to reduce its cost, the government has been operating forage mission. Industrial feed is higher than milk price, so the government expects to reduce it by forage based cattle rearing. ‘We provide quality forage seed to farmers in low price’ Director General of the Department of Livestock Dr Nirmal told to‘ within 5 years, we target to expand green forage land upto 45 hundred hector, this is 3rd year.’

According to Dr Nirmal, about 26% cattle are unable to get feed (they search fodder and street food whatever found themselves) and 64% cattle do not get balanced feed. Only about 5 to 10% cattle are lucky to get balanced feed.

There is hard restriction of beef consumption in Nepal. So, arrangement of male calf, ox and non-milking cow is a great burden to farmers and the government. Thus, the government has planned to operate cattle shelter house among all cities and some temples. Non-productive cattle are kept there and their dung will be sold for cultivating land.

Cow is worshiped as goddess Laxmi (goddess of wealth). So, male calf and cow management is a very tough for each cow farmers. They should feed them until they die.

Model Practices in Destination

 There is a think that commercial farm should provide pellet and industrial feed only to the cattle. The Destination Agro Farm at Bhaktapur district (adjoining to capital, Kathmandu of Nepal) has own analysis of feed management. They provide industrial feed and forage in 50/50 ratio.

They provide feed twice a day.  They prepare a mix feed with industrial feed, hay, fodder in water and supply to cattle. ‘We do not provide feed in dry form’; Owner of the farm Pradeep said, ‘The general ratio of concentrated feed is 0.5 kg per a liter milk. Remaining feed is maintained by fodder and hay.’ So, the production cost is lower than general farmer’s cost here.

They provide feed for pregnant, calf, milking cow according to their health and need analysis. They prepare fodder with 60% of green and 40% of hay. Then, total of 50% fodder mix up with concentrated feed. Generally, an animal gets feed of 15% of their body weight. Like, if an animal is 400 kg weight, it gets 60 kg feed per day.

Water is also essential to health and milk for a cow. The farm provides average 90 liter water to a milking cow daily. ‘Dehydration is also a big cause of low milk’ Pradeep explained, ‘Many health problems derive from dehydration as our findings.’

Due to proper feed management, their animals rarely meet veterinary technicians. Pant and his staff team think that almost health problem and breeding trouble derived from improper feed. ‘We always aware to provide feed as per cattle need. So, we should not spend much money for treatment,’ they said in common sound ‘We hope, proper feed is a prevention of almost diseases.’

The farm sell milk and its byproducts as well. They produce ghee, paneer, yoghurt, cream, butter and whey. His all items have high demand in the market. ‘Sometimes, even we cannot consume; he smiles; ‘Our consumer knocks our gate since the early morning to late night.’

They sell fresh and pasteurized milk. ‘To control coli form in milk, we suggest consumer to drink pasteurized milk;’ Pradeep said, ‘But, some consumers demand fresh milk so we provide as their need.’ Though, due to high sanitation, milking sincerity and quality herd management system has minimized coli form and such hazards as he claimed.

(Mr Pant can be reached at

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