According to the National Living Standard Survey
conducted in 2004, some 31% of Nepalese still live
below the extreme poverty line. Economic growth and
increased levels of production provide access and
relief to the poor helping the poor to combat poverty;
especially important is the modernisation of
agriculture and an increase in the yields. Between
two and three million farmers in Nepal are involved in
the dairy sector in Nepal, who either own cows or
buffaloes and produce milk that they trade for
income, or are involved in producing the feed, looking
out for the health of the animals, or collecting,
transporting, processing and selling dairy products.
Additionally, it is estimated that every 10 to 20 litres
of milk marketed a day creates one additional job for
someone not farming themselves, but earning a living
from supporting the chain that produces milk and
takes it to those who drink and eat milk-based
Practical Action Nepal has, with the financial support A local breed cow using a salt lick in
of the UK’s Department for International
Chitwan, Nepal. Photo: Practical Action.
Development (DFID), implemented the ‘Dairy
component’ of the Market Access for Smallholder Farmers (MASF) project, with the aim of the
programme to reduce poverty of smallholder farmers in Nepal and a specific objective to increase
sustainable income of 10,000 smallholder dairy farmers within two years.
Nutrition deficiencies in cattle
Much of Nepal’s landscape is steeply hilled, with lots of good land covered in protected forests.
The subsequent lack of land to cultivate grass for cattle feed means that many poorer farmers
have to rely on straw and bran to feed their cows with, which both have very low nutritional
contents. One of the major problems for Nepalese farmers is that the resulting nutritional
deficiencies in cattle have prevented them from producing high quality milk in sufficient
quantities to attract the interest of cooperatives and companies, and has generally limited the
growth of the industry on a nation-wide basis. Consequently, a key aim of the project was to
develop ways to help farmers improve the nutrition of their cattle, and in turn increase the
quantity and solids content of their milk.
Salt licks (or mineral licks) are often found as natural occurrences in the wild, where mineral
deposits form in clay, that wild animals can then lick to obtain mineral nutrients. Whilst sodium
(Na) is the mineral most commonly required to supplement animals’ nutritional intakes, natural
mineral lick sites often contain calcium (Ca), iron (Fe), magnesium (Mg), phosphorus (P),
potassium (K) and zinc (Zn) among others (Kreulen, 1985).
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