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India’s Odisha State and ILRI join forces to improve livestock feeding and mechanization


Rural dairy pictures from India’s Odisha State (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan and Jules Mateo).

The following article is written by Iain Wright, deputy director general for research at ILRI.

I made a flying visit to India over the Easter weekend in April. We have been in discussion for some time with the government of India’s Odisha State (formerly known as ‘Orissa’), on the eastern coast (Bay of Bengal), about a new project to improve livestock feeding systems.

Odisha is India’s 9th largest state by area, 11th largest by total population and 3rd largest by tribal population. Three-quarters of the state is covered in mountain ranges, with deep, broad, fertile and densely populated river valleys, as well as plateaus and rolling uplands. Nearly a third of the state is covered in forests.

Poverty levels have reduced sharply in the state since 2005 but are still very high. Growth is higher than in some low-income states but has recently slipped below the national average (World Bank, 2016).

More than half of the 42 million people in this major agricultural state depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has previously participated in a project in this state conducted by several CGIAR centres and state organizations and called Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA). CSISA was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).

ILRI director general Jimmy Smith (left) paid a courtesy call on Odisha Fisheries and Animal Resources Development secretary Bishnupada Sethi in Mar 2016 (photo credits: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

In that earlier Odisha project (2012–2015), ILRI scientists addressed the state’s insufficient feed and fodder supply by promoting use of abundant, locally available and underutilized feeds, such as crop residues (rice and wheat straw and maize stover) and by introducing interventions in processing feeds, particularly mechanical chopping. ILRI’s work in CSISA also helped improved use of concentrate feeding and mineral mixtures by dairy farmers. And ILRI work identified maize and rice cultivars with potentially superior straw feed quality for dissemination.

Rural animal husbandry pictures from Odisha (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan and Jules Mateo and [bottom right] Creative Odisha).

On 15 Apr 2017, with the negotiations for the new Odisha project complete, I signed a memorandum of understanding on behalf of ILRI with the government of Odisha in the presence of Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik and senior officials of the state government, including Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment and Fisheries and Animal Resources Development Pradeep Kumar Maharathy, Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi, Development Commissioner-cum-Additional Chief Secretary & Secretary Planning & Convergence Department R Balakrishnan, Agriculture Production Commissioner Gagan Bihari Dhal, Principal Secretary of Finance Department Tuhin Kant Pande and Fisheries and Animal Resources Development Secretary Bishnupada Sethi.

ILRI deputy director general for research Iain Wright (left) and Odisha Veterinary Services director Pratap Chandra Dash sign an ILRI-Odisha Government memorandum of understanding initiating in Apr 2017 a new livestock feeds project in that eastern Indian state (photo credit: ILRI).

This is the first time a state government in India has invested its own money directly in ILRI. This kind of substantial funding by Odisha State underscores the importance the state government is placing on agricultural development, with sustainable livestock feeding and development playing a central role in that.

The three-year project, ‘Feed and Fodder Production in Different Agro-Climatic Zones and its Utilization for Livestock of Odisha,’ which is worth USD1.1 million (INR7.74 crore), will map feed and fodder supply and demand, improve feeding practices and build capacity of key players in the feed value chain in the state. ILRI will play the central role in improving the production of quality feed and fodder along with introducing the latest feeding technology through training and demonstration for specific small-scale livestock farming systems. The state’s farmers will be encouraged to grow superior dual-purpose (food and feed) crops to boost fodder availability for livestock as well as grain for people.

I was surprised to arrive at the state capital’s Bhubaneswar Airport to red carpets, flower garlands and police and army security. Alas, it was not for me—the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, was due to arrive a few hours later for a big rally!—ILRI’s Iain Wright

For more information, please contact Habibar Rahman, ILRI Representative in South Asia (h.rahman [at], or Braja Swain, the manager of this ILRI Odisha project (b.swain [at]

News clippings
MoUs inked for growth of fisheries, animal husbandry sector in Odisha, The Times of India, 15 Apr 2017.
Fodder plan to boost livestock in Odisha, The New Indian Express, 2 Nov 2016.
The Odisha Government and ILRI join forces to better resource livestock feeds in this eastern Indian state, ILRI News Clippings blog, 2 Nov 2016.
ILRI to pact with Odisha, Tathya, 31 Oct 2016.

Read about ILRI’s past work in Odisha in a blog series
‘Curds and goats, lives and livelihoods—A dozen stories from northern and eastern India’
Part 5: Wonder women of Bhubaneswar, 12 Apr 2016.
Part 6: Odisha Odyssey: The Arcadian landscapes and tribal goat keepers of Mayurbhanj, 9 May 2016.
Part 7: Odisha Odyssey: A look at the emerging commercial dairy value chains in eastern India, 12 May 2016.
Part 12: The hand that cares and feeds: India’s unnatural ‘natural’ caretakers of livestock, 1 Aug 2016.

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