The Bangladesh Agricultural University in Mymensingh, through the Department of Surgery and Obstetrics started working through a Research Contract under an IAEA Coordinated Research Project (CRP) entitled “Use of RIA and related techniques to identify ways of improving artificial insemination (AI) programmes for cattle reared under tropical and sub-tropical conditions ” initiated in 1995 to improve AI services in Bangladesh. Measurement of progesterone by radioimmunoassay (RIA) in milk samples collected at specific times in relation to AI, combined with the use of the computer database AIDA (Artificial Insemination Database Application), developed by the Animal Production and Health Section, proved to be a powerful tool for calculating reproductive indices and identifying factors, which affect them. The challenges identified were poor oestrus detection efficiency and accuracy; lack of tools and initiatives to follow the outcome of breeding; inconsistent semen quality; wide variations in skills of the inseminators; and poor nutrition conditions of cows that lowers the conception rate and extend calving to conception intervals. The local researchers learned that number of AI services could be substantially increased by introducing a reproductive health management programme that would identify more cyclic cows to breed.
Base on the above results, a participatory programme was introduced on smallholder dairy farms called Field Fertility Clinic, which was guided, by forms and a database application locally developed through a USDA grant and a second Research Contract under the CRP entitled “Integrated approach for improving small scale market oriented dairy systems” implemented from 2001 to 2007. During the implementation and delivery of the service, researchers had the opportunity to work closely with the farmers thus developing strong relationships and partnerships, which improved the farmers’ trust of their technical recommendations, suggested changes in management and care of animals and encouraged the farmers to seek support for improving AI service and treatment for cows with reproductive disorders. The implemented activities conducted in the country by the research team through the “On-farm productivity veterinary service” increased farmers net income that equalled the price of a litre of milk. The project team also learnt the importance of the participation and contribution of the farming community for ownership and continuation of the service after the project was closed.
Based on the promising results of the project, the group led by Prof. Mohammed Shamsuddin through another USDA grant and with the support of two IAEA Regional Co-operative Agreements (RAS/5/035 & RAS/5/044), developed a model for delivering veterinary services to smallholder dairy farms called Community-based Dairy Veterinary Services (CDVS). The CDVS, through farmers groups and associations (five dairy farmers associations, three in Satkhira and one each in Chittagong and Mymensingh) created a self-financing Foundation. The Foundation in collaboration with farmers association and the local dairy processor will run the programme without financial support from the university or the government. The key to the success of the programme is inclusion of a dairy processor to ensure the milk produced by the farm community is marketed.
In Satkhira, on the southwest of the country, the three associations collect nearly 7,000 litres of milk per day, which are delivered, to five milk-chilling centres set-up by the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) Dairy and Food Project ? one of the world's largest non-governmental development organizations. The BRAC is currently paying 1.65 Bangladesh Taka (US$ 0.02) to CDVS for services for each litre of milk delivered. Thus, the CBBS yearly income equals US$ 62,000.00. This amount of money is sufficient to pay the salary of three veterinarians, one field assistant, rents for three veterinary offices and the cost of vaccines and anthelmintics for all animals of the farm community. Additionally, CDVS employs 69 men from the community to collect the milk from individual farm-families and deliver it to BRAC Chilling Centres. Each man works two to three hours a day and earns at least US$ 20.00 per month. The programme also generates a large number of off-farm employment opportunities, which is very important in a country like Bangladesh where unemployment is a huge problem. The service is sustainable if the farm community produce 2,000 litres milk a day.