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Dairy Farming - An Alternative Income

Generating Activity

Article June 2009


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Mohammad Shamsuddoha
University of Chittagong


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Bulletin UASVM Horticulture, 66(2)/2009
Print ISSN 1843-5254; Electronic ISSN 1843-5394

Dairy Farming - an Alternative Income Generating Activity

Alexandru NEDELEA1), Veronica GROSU1), Mohammad SHAMSUDDOHA2)

University Stefan cel Mare of Suceava, 13, Universitatii Street, 720229, Suceava, Romania;
University of Chittagong, Bangladesh

Abstract. Dairy products are the substantial contributor to food and protein supply of
Bangladesh. Many indigenous small farmers are rearing dairy cattle in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is
considered one of the most suitable countries in the world for dairy farming. Development of dairy has
generated considerable employment through the production and marketing of dairy and dairy related
products. This paper aims to identify whether small and medium dairy farming can be considered as an
alternative income generating activity for the development of rural and urban poor peoples of

Keywords: dairy, alternative income generation, poor people, Bangladesh


80% of the Country's 120 (currently 140) million people live in the rural areas and are
highly dependent on agricultural system that is finely attuned to a tropical monsoon climate
(UNDP 2005). Agriculture generates 39% of the GDP and the share of the livestock sub-
sector is 2.8% (Brammer et al. 1996). The contribution of the small-scale dairy farming to the
welfare of the community is huge. The main focus is on the identification of the production
level of milk from the homestead dairy, amount of income earned by the dairy farmers, items
on which income from the dairy enterprise is spent and the constraints faced by the small-
scale dairy farmers. Involvement of poor people in all development initiatives including
agriculture is seen as a priority in the national development paradigm. On the other hand,
studies on various development endeavors have also endorsed the fact that while female
members of farm-based households are playing a significant role in agricultural farm and
household activities, their work loads have been consistently higher than that of the male
members. Poor people are involved in different household activities like cooking, food
preparation, child-rearing, livestock and poultry-raising, and household gardening, which are
essential for household maintenance. They are also engaged in post-harvest activities, which
include rice processing (that is, boiling, drying and husking of paddy). The male members of
agricultural households are involved in field activities while the female members undertake
tasks like seeds preservation, and drying and boiling of paddy. Research studies show that
besides their regular household work, 43% of women are involved in activities related to
agriculture, and almost 15% undertake agriculture as their second occupation.
Low-income country like Bangladesh has always focused on employment generation
as a crucial instrument for achieving a major development goal i.e. poverty reduction (Islam
and Muqtada, 1986). For this objective, the promotion of self-employment or entrepreneurial
development has been regarded as more effective than industrial development (Hye, 1993;
Islam and Muqtada, 1986). Although the progress in poverty reduction in the 1990s was

notable, the incidence of rural poverty remains very high at 53 percent in 2000 (World Bank,
2002). The persistent existence of rural poverty implies that self-employment strategies have
not necessarily opened up sufficient economic opportunities for many of the rural poor. Self-
employment promotion for poverty reduction has been administered through microcredit
programs in Bangladesh. To enable the poor left behind to participate in the rural economy as
entrepreneurs, this paper proposes an alternative self-employment approach for poor
producers. The paper develops this conceptual relationship in a real rural setting through the
observation of an income- generating program implemented by the sample respondents in the
field of indigenous dairy farming.


In the light of dairy as an alternative income generating activities for the rural and
urban poor people, the researcher have been focused on indigenous dairy farming in
Bangladesh, comparative analysis of dairy with the other income generating activities, feeding
resources availed by the farmers


The study covered greater Chittagong division in Bangladesh. The total sample respondents
were 100 poor rural and urban people selected purposively to comply with the research
objective. The researcher selected six areas Nazirhat, Hathazari, Sikalbaha, Potiya, Gahira
& Kadurkhil of Chittagong as the study area. Both primary and secondary data were used in
the study. Primary data were collected from December 2007 to March 2008, mainly through
in-depth interviews with the sample respondents. Secondary data were collected from
different published documents of such as Survey reports, Five Year Plans, and Statistical
Yearbooks. Further, various publications of national and international organizations like NGO
Forums, CODEC, DFID, NRI etc were collected. In the process of analyses of collected data,
various statistical tools like averages, percentages, and tables were applied in order to make
the study worthier, informative, and useful for the purposes.


The dependency of rural poor on livestock for their livelihood is quite substantial and this
situation is likely to continue for the years to come. More than 90 % of cattle, buffaloes, and
goat are being reared in rural areas (GOI, 2006). Among the livestock, dairy cattle play a
pivotal role in the livelihoods of the poor people especially those who are poor not only in
land assets but also in literacy, access to infrastructure facilities, information and basically
unskilled. These rural poor had no option but to take up dairy farming as a main occupation as
it is the only enterprise which could provide regular income (Milk Money) serve as asset
(moving bank). Dairy farming forms the second or third largest economic activity in the
country (Rao et al, 2004).
Dairy farming basically a crop residue based enterprise is slowly getting transformed
into external input based system where in the dairy farmers have to depend upon purchased
inputs to rear cattle. The importance of feeds in dairy farming needs no emphasis. With
increase in the pressure on land due to urbanizations and industrializations and decrease in the
area under food crops coupled with increasing demand for milk and milk products the
dependency on external or purchased inputs is increasing concomitantly putting pressure on
the dairy farmers especially the resource poor. Efforts are being made to reduce the yawning

gap between the requirement and availability of feeds and fodders which include
technological interventions to increase the yields, bringing more area under fodder crops,
conservation of feeds and fodders, improving the nutritive value of the poor quality
roughages, formulation of balanced rations, feeding of unconventional feeds etc (Rao et. el.,
2007). This study explores how the rural poor can participate in the rural economy as
entrepreneurs. It starts by briefly reviewing the conventional approach to self-employment
promotion for the rural poor and proposes the concept of an alternative approach to help the
poor participate in the rural economy through self-employment. Findings from the empirical
examination make the alternative approach substantial.


Income generating activities are the prime determinants of level of income. Income is the
important ingredient of purchasing ability and thereby fundamentally affects livelihood of the
target people. It is generally observed that increase in income is followed by subsequent rise
in demand for and search for quality, which pave the way towards better livelihood. Again,
the income generating activities varies based on gender and season. In this connection, we
were interested to know about different IGA of the female respondents and also the average
income derived from such IGAs per month, which is shown below
Tab. 1
Income generating Activities of women respondents

Technology Average Cost/ Average
Activities Frequency in % Income/Month
and Inputs Month Profit/ Month
(In Taka)
Weaving Local 12 250 500 250
Bamboo works Local 16 300 750 450
Vegetable farming Local 26 950 1500 650
Dairy or cattle raising Local 23 250 850 600
Poultry Local 23 150 450 300
* I Dollar = Taka 68, Source: Field survey

From the above table and figures, it is evident that the principal activity of the poor
people vegetable farming (26%), followed by dairy and poultry (both 23%), Bamboo works &
Handicrafts (16%), and weaving (51.67%). The average incomes of the respondents from
these activities are vegetable farming (Taka 650), followed by dairy (Taka 600), poultry (Taka
300), Bamboo works & Handicrafts (Taka 450) and weaving (Taka 250). It is showing that
dairy is producing more money than the other income generating activities in the context of
input cost.
Among several income-generating programs, this study focuses on dairy farming. This
economic activity is highly replicable in other Bangladeshi settings because the dairy sector
has sufficient and increasing domestic demands for its final products, whereas a successful
case of handicraft-making in a specific locality cannot be easily replicated in other localities
due to difficulties in the procurement of raw materials and limited marketing opportunities.
The researchers have observed that most of the respondents are interested in rearing 3-
5 or 5-8 cows in its local made dairy house. The above table showing that most of the sources
of dairy feed are available through local sources such as homestead, rice bran, road side grass,
riverside, play ground, embankment which does not have any cost. Besides that, some other
few things has to purchased from the local market by the farmers.

Tab. 2
Feeding resources and feeding practices by the farmers

Source: Rashid, M. M. et al., (2007)1,


Rural and urban poor people can play a significant role in the agricultural sector by
emphasizing dairy subsector in Bangladesh. Development initiatives over the last few decades
clearly showed that sustained improvements in productivity and in people's lives depend upon
the recognition of the crucial role played by the poor farmers in production, processing and
marketing in the small-scale entrepreneurial sector in the country. In addition, this IGA could
give more social acceptability in a sense of self-sufficiency, generating consistent revenue,
easy mode of loan facilities from the financiers/NGOs, waste management (dairy wastage
could be used in the agricultural land as an alternative of fertilizer or help to generate
fireworks for rural burner in kitchen). As an IGA, dairy is one of the handful and important
activities which can able to generate more revenue than the other activities to the rural and
urban poor people.

1. Brammer, H., Asaduzzaman, M. and Sultan, P. (1996). Effects of climate and sea level changes on the
natural resources of Bangladesh, in R. A. Warrick and Q. K. Ahmed (eds.), The Implications and Climate and
Sea-Level Change for Bangladesh, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 143-203.
2. Hussain, S. (1997). Recent trends in the rural economy of Bangladesh poverty and development. Dhaka,
Bangladesh. Institute of Development Studies Journal PP 216-236.
3. Hye, S. A. (1993). Review on labour and employment. In Growth and Development in Rural
Bangladesh: A Critical Review, M Asaduzzaman and K Westergaard (eds.), pp. 261-405. Dhaka: University
4. Islam, R. and M. Muqtada (1986). Employment and poverty alleviation: An overview. In Bangladesh:
Selected Issues in Employment and Development, R Islam and M Muqtada (eds.), pp. 1-10. New Delhi:
International Labour Organisation.
5. Human Development Reports, UNDP, 2005.
6. Parthasarathy Rao, O, Birthal, P. S, Kar D. and Wickramaratne and Shreshta, H. R. (2004.). Increasing
livestock productivity in mixed crop livestock systems in south Asia, ICRISAT, Hyderabad, India.
7. Rao, et al. (2007). Dairy cattle feeding evidence based pro-poor institutional approach, Rajiv Gandhi
College of Veterinary & Animal Sciences, pondicherry-605 009.

Rashid, M. M. et. al. (2007). Study of the Dairy Cattle Management Systems at Farmers Level in Jessore
District of Bangladesh, Pakistan Journal of Nutrition, 6 (2): 155-158, 2007, ISSN 1680-5194.