Medicinally rich and nutrient packed A2 milk produced by desi Indian cows.
In this feature we have focused on Gir cow.
A2 milk is produced by native indigenous breed cows namely Gir, Sahiwal, Tharparkar, Rathi, Deoni and Red Sindhi. These milking breed cows are known for its’ best milking prowess. Milk obtained from these breeds is proved to be medicinally rich having many curative and healing properties against many diseases. The milk contains beta-casein protein beta laef albumin, medicinal compounds having anti-cancer properties like Glucolyte, Dephthenotoxin, Phenol and 4-Methyl that makes it superior than A1 milk.
A1 milk consists of mutated beta casein. This milk is produced by exotic European breeds namely Jersey and Holstein Friesian (HF). These cross-breeds are also referred as ‘urus’ or ‘aurochs’ in foreign countries. High milk yielding ability is its’ unique feature. These breeds have captured more than 80% of dairy farms across the globe including India.
Consistently for past many years Indian desi cows are getting replaced by Jersey and HF dairy animals because the later yield milk as high as 25 liter/day whereas Indian breed cows yield less than 15 liter/day. However, the nutritive value of the A2 milk produced by our country’s desi cows is surmountable when compared with A1 milk. These days with increased awareness on health and nutrition, demand of A2 milk is increasing. Dairy farmers across the country are getting inclined towards rearing Indian breed cows but lack the knowledge on buying, rearing, breeding and managing the same.
Agriculture and Industry Survey magazine has been interacting with some experts, experienced farmers and individuals committed to revive these endangered desi cow breeds of India. We compile the information on each breed.
Mr. Ravi Marshetwar
Provides deep insight on gir cow physical characteristics and breeding. Extends help to the farmers from buying cows till milk sales
“In the year 1945 a rumor was spread that Indian native cow are poor milking breeds and a complete burden for the dairy farmer is 100% wrong. I have a pure breed gir cow in my farm that yields superior quality milk in good quantity. Last year in one lactation cycle of 305 days I sold 1600 liter pure milk (A2) of my desi gir cow at Rs. 60/liter and earned the income of Rs. 96 thousand. In this 50% were the expenses and 50% was the profit. In addition, the dung and urine obtained was used to prepare the farming inputs for my 5 acre farmland hence I saved immensely on the production cost. Subsequently I stopped using chemicals completely in my farm thereby the farm produced mangoes were sold at premium price increasing my revenues. Lastly the gir cow gave birth to a female calf and that was a profit too! With this statistics it is been proved that rearing gir cow is certainly profitable. It has the best capacity to improve the livelihood of the farmers and is an asset not a liability,” asserts Mr. Ravi Madhavrao Marshetwar, social worker, progressive farmer and spokesperson for gir cow rearing and chemical free farming. He hails from Washim, Vidarbha, Maharashtra.
He has taken the self-initiative and responsibility to help fellow farmers to start rearing gir cows. He provides all the help required right from buying the cow till selling its milk. Speaking of identifying the pure breed of gir cow, he explains, “There are few unique features that distinguish pure breed from the cross breed gir variants. Gir cows are shining red in colour with white spots. The skin is loose and pliable. The body surface has short glossy hair. The skin secrets greasy substance called as sebum. Gir cow has a largest hump amongst all the indigenous cow breeds of India. The hump is vertically erected and quite tall. It is located on cow’s upper back. It has long and pendulous ears that are turned inside just like a curled leaf. Ears and horns are very close/attached to each other. The horns grow downwards and backwards having the upward curve. These are thick at the base.” Eyes are hooded and black pigmented. The tail is long with bushy and thick hair in the end that is referred as switch of the tail.
The dewlap (called ‘gal kambal’ in Hindi) is elongated and flabby that hangs beneath the lower jaw or neck. “Usually the bull has flabbier dewlap than cows. However, it is best in gir breed cattle. It helps to dissipate excess body heat. All four cleft (feet) of pure gir cow are bright black in colour and hard. Above each cleft there is black ring like structure known as dew claw. The dew claw should look like a perfect circular ring. Any imperfection in dew claw would imply the cow is cross breed. The umbilical cord should be long and pendulous. More pendulous is the umbilical cord more shall be the milking capacity of the cow!” he adds.
When a farmer can spot all these physical features in the cow he can be sure that it is pure native breed of gir cow. However, it is quite an effort and luck to spot such a cow because the purity is scarce at the moment in our country! In order to increase the number of gir cow in his village and neighboring areas Mr. Marshetwar sources best quality semen from Sabarmati Ashram Gaushala, Gujarat and BAIF from Uralikanchan, Pune. He then shares it with fellow farmers free of cost. It is self-funded project for him. “Gir cow is our national treasure that has to be safeguarded from getting extinct. In Maharashtra state we are not able to find healthy and sturdy bull for natural insemination. Therefore sourcing best quality semen from Gujarat for artificial insemination (AI) is the only solution left! Sabarmati Gaushala, Gujarat is undoubtedly the most trusted source for best quality semen of pure gir bull. We hire professional veterinarians and take help from State Government Animal Husbandry department doctors to inseminate our gir cows appropriately ensuring it is never misused. The success rate of AI in our village is 1:3 (success: failure). I am working round the clock to save indigenous weeds, indigenous seeds and indigenous breeds,” he shares. In case of failure in AI the subsequent attempt is made in after 18-21 days.
In the opinion of Mr. Marshetwar farmers can be convinced to rear gir cows exclusively in their respective farms and they surely will invest all their resources in taking excellent care of the cows. However, they lag extremely in marketing. “Farmers are very gullible and will not be able to sell their milk! Dairy co-operatives will pay lowest possible price for A2 milk and farmer doesn’t have sharpness to connect with the direct buyers who will be ready to pay Rs. 60 or more for one liter of milk. And when they are not able to sell the milk rearing gir cows becomes a loss making venture for them,” highlights Mr. Marshetwar. To fill this gap he has formed a farmer self-help group ‘Vande Gomataram Shetkari Gat, Washim’.
Vande Gomataram Shetkari Gat, Washim was formed in 2014. There are 41 members in the group having 100 gir cows in total. Collectively the members have decided to sell the A2 milk @ Rs. 60/liter. “Farmers are fed up of listening to the dos and don’ts to earn more money. They seek a genuine path. Therefore through this self-help group I am educating and convincing the urban consumers to start consuming A2 milk as it is good for their health. Then I connect these buyers with the members of our group for the milk supply. In this way the farmers are able to sell their dairy farm produced A2 milk to direct users and earn deserved money,” he states. Butter, ghee and butter milk produced from A2 milk are also sold to the customers through this group. It is win-win case for farmers as well as consumers. “In the year 2016 all 41 dairy farmer members have collectively sold milk worth Rs. 25 lakh. This year hopefully we shall cross this figure.”
Mr. Marshetwar completed BE with specialization in civil engineering and worked in Muscat for 10 years. However, to work for the society and promote farmers in his region he returned back to his village in 2002. Since then he is working for the farmers and with the farmers. He has crafted a model dairy farm and fruit orchard in his village having pure gir breed cows and mango trees respectively. He encourages and provides all possible assistance to farmers to rear gir cow or other indigenous cow breeds.
In his farmland he has grown kesar, dashri, amarpali and alphonso mangoes through ultra high density farming technique. Fodder, turmeric and seasonal vegetables are also grown. The entire farmland is nourished only from the dung and urine of gir cow. “There is no need of any other chemicals in the farm as the mix of gir cow dung, urine and jaggery fulfills all requirements. It is self-sufficient solution known as jeevamruth. Besides, as per the latest research of Junagadh Agriculture University, Gujarat it has confirmed that gir cow urine contains many metabolites and benzic acid that have anti-fungal and antiseptic properties,” he shares.
Apart from dairy farming, Mr. Marshetwar also conducts agri tours for farmers of Maharashtra in different parts of the country to assist them in having best possible knowledge and exposure to chemical free farming practices, rearing desi Indian breeds and techniques to improve horticulture production. “The purpose of these tours is also to do brain wash of the farmer on traditional and latest farming practices that are profitable and enduring for him in long term. He should be convinced to select the practices that are adaptable and affordable to him. For example rearing gir cow over jersey or HF is not easy for him at all as he has his own set of assumptions and routine. To break it I need to take the group of farmers to a successful operative dairy farm having gir cows. At the farm a detailed discussion/hands-on training session is organized providing information on every aspect of gir cow rearing. This session helps the farmers to overcome their inhibitions and take small steps on switching to gir cows,” he elaborates.
Mr. Marshetwar holds the credit of arranging 500plus agri tours for 5000 farmers residing in 20 districts in the state in the time duration of 15 years. “It is imperative that agriculture technology transfer reach farmers appropriately so that best results in all agriculture sectors can be attained. Invention in agriculture followed by patent and later charging the farmers to use it is actually waste of national resources if the farmer is not using it. Think big and let the farmers have the technologies enabling him to grow healthy and nutritious food for the countrymen,” he states.
Further everyone in the country is seeking money from farmers making false promises of bountiful production In reality neither the production increases nor the revenues and ultimately the farmer is in deep debt. Later after repetitive efforts to increase the income or re-pay the debts farmer feels aghast and commits suicide.
“In my Vidarbha region there are 11 districts. Out of 11 districts 6 districts are renowned nationally and may be internationally for farmers’ suicide. The number of suicides is in thousands! I feel hurt and have taken the responsibility to change the life of farmer, change the image of Vidarbha as the most flourishing agricultural region of India. To do this gir cow will lead us and bring the change,” he signs off.
Mr. Ravi Madhavrao Marshetwar
Shukrawar Peth, Indira Chouk, At Washim, District Washim – 444505, Vidarbha, Maharashtra
Mobile: +91 9823748863