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Increasing dairy productivity

Modelled interventions to increase dairy production in Ethiopia and India. Scenarios are ranked by annual milk production per farm within each site. Profit is from livestock production only. 1 USD = 22 ETB or 66 INR. Data from Mayberry et al. (2017) Yield gap analyses to estimate attainable bovine milk yields and evaluate options to increase production in Ethiopia and India. Agricultural Systems 155, 43-51.

Simple interventions can increase yield in India and Ethiopia!

Our projections demonstrate that it would be possible to increase production further than the existing baseline projections to 2030 for India and Ethiopia. For example, dairy production in India is projected to increase by 65% to 2030 (see table). Our results show that with improved feeding and promoting changes in herd structures towards more cross-breed animals, or buffalo production, milk production could increase between 112-130% by 2030 (see table).

Ethiopia has larger yield gaps than India, but this results partly from having a lower baseline. Ethiopian dairy production is expected to grow by 84% to 2030 under baseline conditions (see table). Alternative scenarios demonstrated a positive, but more variable production response, ranging from 97 to 242% depending on the improvement strategy selected (see table). Packages of interventions, including better feeding, crossbreeds and others, led to the highest potential gains.

We found a very strong and statistically significant link between market access and farm performance in most sites. This suggests that efforts to improve market access should be an important component of institutional and policy interventions to close yield gaps.

Increasing milk production will require both an increase in the quantity of feed available and more efficient use of existing resources. This is especially important as the smaller, indigenous livestock breeds are replaced by larger cross-bred cattle and buffalo with higher energy requirements.

Cross-breeding is a good option to increase milk productivity, but this will only work if higher quality feed is also available and provided to improved livestock.

Herd management and species composition for milk production is a key strategy to maximise milk production in India.

There is significant potential for increasing small ruminant production through practices to reduce mortality and provide improved fodders. Cross-breeding in these systems was shown to be relatively ineffective in isolation, but a package including the three interventions demonstrated the potential to increase productivity five-fold.

The most profitable feeding interventions tested are not necessarily those with the highest productivity gains. This needs to be accounted for when designing dairy improvement programmes.