The project is being implemented with support from the National Dairy Development Board and was initiated in April 2004. The project is being implemented by the Foundation for Ecological Security in Rajasthan, Karnataka and Gujarat.
Degradation of land and water resources particularly in the semi arid areas has led to adverse economic and ecological consequences in contemporary rural society, where survival, sustenance and growth are intimately linked to the health and productivity of the surrounding natural resources. In mixed farming systems, typical of semi-arid areas, milk production is a gainful secondary occupation and can generate surplus, especially in marginal households, only when a significant part of material inputs come from commons and agriculture residues. It is known from various studies that nearly 40 % of the total fodder and forage intake of even milch animals come from the common lands, which are usually degraded forest lands, grazing lands and revenue wastelands near villages.
In certain areas, groundwater depletion has already raised serious questions about the viability and growth of agriculture and dairying. Lack of fodder and water has tended to influence both the quantity and quality of milk production of marginal and small farm households. The milk unions in different parts of the country have been facing problems of decreased milk production and increased cost of production due to acute scarcity of water, where some of the milk unions have had to purchase water to meet the requirements for day-to-day operations. Droughts have brought to light the reason and need for a healthy and productive natural resource base for the very survival and sustenance of rural life and for especially those who depend on animal husbandry or mixed farming based livelihoods.
FES is implementing a project on dairying and natural resource management to evolve lessons and develop models that could be later integrated for large-scale replication.
The specific objectives of the project, which would strengthen the dairy initiatives, are:
- Improving biomass production both from commons and private lands, and
- Water availability, to meet the needs of agriculture and animal husbandry.
- Bringing all forms of commons under active village governance.
- Strengthening village level institutions and providing legal rights on the usufructs from the commons and forests to user communities.
- Assessing people’s livelihood requirements, improving the livelihood and reducing the risks to livelihoods of the community during periods of drought.
Specifically in Udaipur and Dahod the project seeks to:
- Strengthen hamlet-based people’s institutions and provide legal rights on the usufructs from forests to the user community by creating forest-based people’s institutions under Joint Forest Management.
- Improve productivity of the farming system and increase availability of fodder and non-timber forest produce from forests and private lands.
- Improve surface and ground water availability for domestic and livestock requirements.
- Assess people’s livelihood requirements, improve the livelihood through farm and non-farm options and reduce the risks to livelihoods of the community during periods of drought