Injecting Success, One Cow At A Time
Anil Kumar Pradhan, an artificial insemination technician recently won the National Gopal Ratna Award for his contribution towards the country’s artificial insemination programme, and raising the income of farmers and cattle breeders.
Niroj Ranjan Misra 9 Dec 2023 7:06 AM GMT
Anil Kumar Pradhan travelled a long and rocky road to success which culminated in him winning the National Gopal Ratna Award on the National Milk Day, on November 26 this year.
The 35-year-old bagged the award for being the second best artificial insemination technician, or AIT, in the country who has improved the lives of hundreds of farmers and cattle breeders in Angul district of Odisha through artificial insemination of cattle, increasing the milk yield and hence the profits.
According to Pradhan, he has succeeded in inseminating about 4,800 cows out of 5,600 in 16 villages in Chhendipada block under his jurisdiction in Angul district of Odisha. He belongs to Deuriajharan village of the district.
While earlier, a desi cow gave only 200 to 250 millilitres of milk daily, a cow, born out of the inseminated cows, gives 15 to 20 litres of milk, said the artificial insemination technician.
Thanks to his determination, many cattle breeders in the villages are now reaping the benefits.
“I had 45 desi cows eight years ago, and though I did not spend much on their maintenance, their yield was hardly anything either,” recalled Bijay Majhi of Machhakuta village in Chhendipada block. He now has only 10 inseminated cows and their five female calves.
“My income from them is over Rs 60,000 a month. Earlier I earned no more than Rs 15,000 a month,” Majhi said. “I sell milk at Rs 31 per litre to the government [Orissa State Cooperative Milk Producers' Federation Limited, a government undertaking], while I charge Rs 40 a litre from others,” he added.
Whereas the dairy farmers and cattle breeders now look up to Pradhan, it wasn’t an easy task initially convincing them to get their cattle artificially inseminated.
In 2012, when he began his career and started to inject desi cows with the semen of Sindhi, Jersey, and Holstein bovine breeds, Pradhan had to face the ire of the farmers there.
“They believed that artificially inseminated desi cows would be afflicted with fatal ailments. Some even believed that inseminated cows’ milk was impure and not fit to offer to the gods,” he recalled.
“I was allowed to carry out artificial insemination on only three cows, but now 1,200 cows in Deuriajharan village are artificially inseminated as villagers now realise the benefit of the artificially inseminated cows,” Pradhan claimed.
There have been other benefits of Pradhan’s artificial insemination programme. It has helped increase the number of bullocks which villagers used for ploughing.
Also, in 2017, he started using ‘sex sorted semen’ that enables cows to give birth to only females. “Till now I have got over 800 desi cows inseminated this way, and they have delivered about 250 females,” he told Gaon Connection.
Dalimba Barik, a 29-year-old villager from Bagadia village in Angul, is one of the beneficiaries. He got five of his cows inseminated with ‘sex sorted semen’ method and they have given birth to five female calves. “Three of them in turn have been inseminated by Pradhan with this method and they will give birth in a few days,” the villager said.
As awareness about artificial insemination has increased among villagers, so has Pradhan’s earnings. “Now I get Rs 50 per shot of insemination. I also earn Rs 50 per pregnancy of an inseminated cow. I receive an incentive of Rs 8,000 per birth of a calf,” he said.
Altogether his average monthly exceeds Rs 20,000. Also, as secretary of Deuriajharan Milk Producers Society, he also gets Re 1 per litre of milk sold to Orissa State Cooperative Milk Producers' Federation Limited (OMFED).
But all the success has come after struggle and hard work. After he passed his intermediate in 2003, Pradhan worked as a daily wage labourer for two years earning Rs 150 a day. He had to take up this job to support his parents who were farmhands and whose income was erratic and insufficient to run their family of six members.
With the money he could save from his daily wages, he sought admission at the Purna Chandra Institute of Engineering and Technology, Chhendipada, and passed out in 2007 with a diploma in mechanical engineering.
In 2008 he became secretary of the Deuriajharan Milk Producers Society where he came into contact with OMFED’s Chhendipada unit that purchases milk from his society. In 2012, he joined BAIF Development Research Foundation in Odisha, after which there was no looking back. BAIF, headquartered in Pune, works on sustainable livelihoods in rural India.
Pradhan is one of 250 artificial insemination technicians of BAIF in its Odisha unit. He underwent several training courses on artificial insemination and is at present posted at the Cattle Development Centre at Bagadia village in Angul district.
He bagged the National Gopal Ratna Award as the country’s second best artificial insemination technician, in Guwahati where Purshottam Rupala, Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying presented the award to him.
According to Bira Kishore Parida, additional director, Department of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services, Cuttack, Pradhan’s award is a matter of pride for Odisha.
“There were four finalists shortlisted by the National Dairy Development Board in Anand, Gujarat, and Pradhan won the second place. The first place went to an AIT in Bihar, while the third spot was bagged by an AIT in Andhra Pradesh,” said Parida.
The National Gopal Ratna Award was instituted in 2021 by the central government. There are three categories of awards — Best Dairy Farmer Rearing Indigenous Cattle/ Buffalo Breeds; Best Diary Cooperative/ Milk Producer Company/ Dairy Farmer Producer Organisation; and Best AIT.
The work done by artificial insemination technicians (AITs) like Pradhan is under the Indian government’s National Artificial Insemination Programme, which is implemented through the state governments.