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‘Ethnoveterinary medicine will be a game changer for dairy in India’

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Down To Earth speaks to Meenesh Shah, chairman, NDDB on EVM use in the Indian dairy sector

Ethnoveterinary medicine as an alternative approach is gaining ground both among veterinarians and farmers alike, according to NDDB Chairman, Meenesh Shah. Photo: iStock

AMR is the resistance developed in bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites against the antimicrobial drug such that they can no longer be inactivated or killed by the drug.

This occurs naturally over time but can be accelerated by the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in human health, animal health and food production. The environment also plays a crucial role in spreading AMR through waste.

Animal farming systems use nearly 75 per cent of total antibiotics globally. India is the fourth largest user of antibiotics in animals. The poultry and cattle industry is the largest consumer of the same.

Ethnoveterinary medicine (EVM) involves the use of traditional / herbal preparations in treating diseases of cattle. It is becoming popular as an alternative to antibiotic use in livestock.

One of the biggest ongoing programmes on EVM in the Indian dairy sector is led by the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB). Down To Earth spoke to Meenesh Shah, chairman, NDDB on EVM use in the Indian dairy sector. Edited excerpts:

Down To Earth: What approach has the NDDB adopted to scale up the use of EVM in dairy farms?


Meenesh Shah: The main approach adopted to scale up EVM use was to take it to the last mile farmer with the aim of transferring knowledge.

Extension materials on EVM for various common ailments in various forms like videos, brochures, posters and apps were propagated extensively in all major vernacular languages.

Along with this, training of key veterinarians, supporting agencies in setting up EVM production plants, etc were also taken up.

DTE: The MCPP programme has been running from almost a decade. Apart from improved animal health, what has been the underlying driving factor for continuing the programme for these many years?

MS: The programme has been running only since 2017 and not a decade. The negligible costs involved and the efficacy of the EVM preparations have been the overarching reasons for the programme being continued. This is also helping us build a robust database on the cure rates of various EVM preparations.

The implementing agencies are also realising that alternate approaches are the need of the hour and would help them in the process of complying with regulatory requirements.

DTE: What were the challenges faced during the scale up process?

MS: The main challenge was convincing veterinarians and managements of institutions in the dairy sector on the need for such an approach and aligning it with the curative approach being adopted today by most veterinarians.

DTE: What is the NDDB doing to take the success of EVM forward?

MS: EVM as an alternative approach is gaining ground both among veterinarians and farmers alike. NDDB continues to propagate the EVM formulations through the various media formats mentioned above. NDDB is also facilitating training of all the stakeholders in dairying.

Publication / presentations in international forums like World Organisation for Animal Health and International Dairy Federation is also being done, showcasing EVM as an alternative approach to allopathy.

DTE: Where do you see this alternative approach in the coming years?

MS: This is surely going to be a game changer that will help in significantly reducing the usage of drugs, especially antibiotics, in dairying.

Many institutions in the dairy sector have seen the immense potential and possibilities of EVM in drastically reducing their drug load and treatment costs. With time and with domestic food regulations becoming more stringent, we are sure that many other institutions would also mainstream EVM.

The realm of EVM will also widen to cover more number of ailments and NDDB is working in this direction.


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