Livestock Research for Rural Development 19 (10) 2007 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD News

Citation of this paper

Farmer Participatory Need-based Extension (FPNE) approach: a sustainable model adopted by cooperative milk unions in Andhra Pradesh, India

Sabyasachi Roy and D V Rangnekar*

New Generation Cooperatives, National Dairy Development Board,
Plot No. A – 3, Sector – 1, Noida – 201301 (India)
*4, Shobhna Appartments, Vastrapur, Ahmedabad, Gujarat (India)


Five milk producers cooperative unions, from the state of Andhra Pradesh in India, tried adoption of Farmer Participatory Need-based Extension (FPNE) approach with the objectives of improving the productivity and quality of milk production by improving effectiveness and efficiency of services, farmer awareness and functioning of village-level dairy cooperative societies (DCS). The National Dairy Development Board, Anand, facilitated trials for adoption of FPNE by the cooperative milk unions. The paper describes the process of adoption of FPNE approach starting with orientation and sensitization of the cooperative milk union staff for participatory situation analysis, identification and characterization of priority needs/constraints and actions taken by the cooperative milk unions to overcome some of them.


The main outcome of the process is - sensitization of major stakeholders like management team, extension officers and producer members of the cooperative milk unions towards the need to continuously interact for sustained improvement in productivity and quality of milk. Another outcome is the realization to establish linkages with other organizations, from related fields, to overcome the constraints. The trials also showed that participatory and systems approach can help in in-depth understanding of rural dairy business systems, perception of producers, particularly that of women producers, identification and characterization of constraints and in choosing appropriate approaches or technologies to overcome the constraints, with due involvement of producers. The exercise has drawn attention towards need to improve services, inputs, fodder resource, some animal health problems, types of dairy animals preferred and information needs of the producers.

Key words: Farmer participatory approach, milk producers’ cooperative, need-based extension, situation analysis


Dairy farming in India is now recognised not only as an important source of livelihood for rural families but also as a tool that can address most of the development issues effectively. The ‘Operation Flood programme’ had the mandate to promote/ spread the spirit of cooperation by developing network of Anand pattern milk producer cooperatives all over the country. This network of milk producers cooperatives comprises more than 1,10,000 village level dairy cooperative societies (DCS), that are linked to 170 cooperative milk unions, spread over 285 districts, with a membership of more than 11 million producers. The cooperative milk unions provide an assured market outlet, fair price for milk to the producers and have checked exploitation of produccers by middlemen / vendors. Moreover, these producer organizations reduced dependence of small farmers on government or private sector for services and inputs and ensured supply of good quality milk to consumers.


The cooperative milk unions provide a wide range of technical inputs and services to the producer members like artificial insemination (AI), organization of infertility camps, preventive and curative animal health care, feed and fodder development programmes, supply of cattle feed, mineral mixture and fodder seeds. The cooperatives also provide extension services on aspects like animal management, clean milk production, management of cooperative societies etc.


However, changing market and economic conditions, while providing new opportunities through increasing demand for milk and milk products, are posing tougher challenges for the cooperative milk unions. Development analysts and economists have drawn attention towards the potential of livestock production as an income generating enterprise and strategic option for agricultural diversification for small farmers (Sen and Venkatadri 1997; Birthal et al 1999; and Pandey 2000). They have pointed out that “extension” is the weak link and there is a need for complete overhaul of the system. Analysts like Garforth and Lawrence (1997) and Sulaiman and van den Ban (2000) have advocated the need for reforms in the present agricultural extension system to remain relevant in this fast changing production/market situation and to meet challenges posed by liberalization of agricultural trade. Thomas and Rangnekar (2004) have pointed out that resource poor farmers have to overcome technical, economic and social constraints to benefit of increasing market demand for livestock products and that is possible only through organizational support. The need is to reform and strengthen livestock extension services and develop effective and efficient delivery systems for inputs and services to enable smallholder producers to overcome these constraints. It is evident that smallholder producers have to be helped to improve productivity of their animals, quality of milk and market access in order to remain in the dairy business and successfully compete. Extension has always been a weak link in livestock development programmes in developing countries and women are generally neglected or the least benefited (Rao and Kherde 1985; Rangnekar 1995; Lehmann et al 1994; and Morton and Mathewman 1996).


It is being increasingly realized that the services and input supplies have to be based on priorities and needs of the producers and there is need for planned efforts to assess these. The need to adopt a farmer participatory and need based approach, in order to extend benefits to smallholder producers, has been advocated since many years but not implemented in a sustained manner. Maarse et al (1998) have documented the process followed to introduce gender sensitive, client oriented livestock extension in Coast province of Kenya to promote adoption of technologies and improved dairy animal management practices.


Some of the cooperative milk unions from Andhra Pradesh, in collaboration with the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB 2004), initiated adoption of the Farmer Participatory Need-based Extension (FPNE) approach with the broad objectives of improving the productivity and quality of milk production, improving farmers awareness and strengthening village level DCS. An equally important aspect is proper assessment of the needs of women and resource poor producers and promoting their involvement in the whole process.


Farmer Participatory Need-based Extension (FPNE) approach: the methodology


FPNE approach internalizes a process of “participatory learning and action” for all major stakeholders. The process is neither “top-down” nor “bottom-up”, but it aims at institutionalization of the process of need-based approach. FPNE is a holistic approach in which issues related to the total cooperative system i.e. enhancing productivity of animals and quality of milk, strengthening of village societies, empowerment of women members, improving feed and other natural resources etc. are being addressed with participation of producers. The approach envisages using of locally based para-extension workers for improving the accessibility, efficiency and effectiveness of inputs delivery and extension service provided to the farmers. It promotes cooperation and partnership with development and research organizations for addressing aspects like improving natural resources, farmers’ awareness, involvement etc. FPNE is a continuous process and not a one-time exercise and involves all the stakeholders.


Steps in FPNE approach


The model of FPNE approach is illustrated in figure 1.



Figure 1.   Farmer Participatory Need based Extension approach


The process broadly involves five steps as indicated below.


1.                  Situation Analysis – involving major stakeholders, to understand current status, constraints, needs and priorities of the producers through:

     i.                         Information gathering from primary and secondary sources,

     ii.                        Identification, characterization and prioritizing of constraints,

2.                  Planning of interventions on the basis of situation analysis and priorities.

3.                  Implementation of the Plan as per the time frame.

4.                  Joint monitoring and evaluation of the interventions.

5.                  Reanalysis of situation for further considerations and actions.


 The process was introduced in the month of June in 2003. Five cooperative milk unions, viz. Guntur, Krishna, Nalgonda Rangareddy, Mulukanoor and Vishaka tried adoption of FPNE approach with facilitation from NDDB.


Adoption of the FPNE approach by the five cooperative milk unions


The process of situation analysis


The Situation Analysis study including needs assessment was undertaken by involving milk producers representing different categories and farming systems prevailing in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The process involved informal surveys of the milk producers by cooperative milk union supervisors and officers, followed by focused group discussions to understand prevailing systems, constraints facing the producers and their suggestions to overcome these constraints. The study was conducted by the milk union staff in more than 300 villages in their respective milk-sheds, involving around 3000 producers, of which about 30% were women. NDDB facilitated planning of the study, data collection, compilation and analysis of information collected by them. The findings of situation analysis study were elaborately discussed between the milk union management team, officers, field supervisors and the Board members of the respective milk unions.


Situation analysis: major findings in the cooperative milk unions


Salient findings of the situation analysis study in the five cooperative milk unions are listed hereunder:


-                    Over 90% of producers indicated that they keep animals for income generation.

-                    During the last decade or so, there is a shift from resource rich farmers to resource poor farmers in taking up dairying as their main source of livelihood.

-                    Paddy straw is the major dry fodder fed to animals. The fodder crops preferred by farmers for cultivation are Sorghum, Pillipesera and Sunhemp.

-                    Milk producers from rainfed areas seek fodder varieties requiring less water, while producers from irrigated areas asked for high yielding varieties of fodder.

-                    Preference of animals is mostly related to risk aversion and availability of resources and services.

-                    Farmer adoption of artificial insemination (AI) for breeding animals is poor, however, they would adopt AI provided efficient (doorstep and timely service) and effective (50% conception rate) services are offered.

-                    Rice polish is the most commonly used and preferred component of homemade concentrate mix of the feed given to dairy animals.

-                    Perception about quality of milk is related only to fat content in milk.


The constraints in dairy farming as perceived by the farmers in dairy farming (listed in order of priority) are given in the Table 1.


Table 1.  Constraints perceived by the farmers in dairy farming

         Scarcity of green and dry fodder

         High price of concentrates - cattle feed, rice polish etc.

         Water scarcity due to drought

         Availability of capital

         Price paid for milk not remunerative

         Regular veterinary services

         Dairying is a labour intensive job

         Low yield of the local animal breeds


Planning intervention and implementation: FPNE experiences


The concerned officers of the cooperative milk unions have started realizing that participatory techniques can help in in-depth understanding of rural dairy business systems as a whole, perception of producers (particularly the women), identification and characterization of constraints for improvement in productivity and in choosing appropriate approaches or technologies to overcome the constraints. It has also resulted in awareness regarding need for planning, training and information dissemination to the producers, based on assessment of their needs for information, skills and knowledge. The respective cooperative milk unions in association with NDDB – State Office, Vijayawada are now implementing the strategic interventions as per the action plans and a few examples are given below to illustrate the response of the milk unions.


Interventions initiated


In response to the needs expressed by the farmers, the cooperative milk unions in consultation with NDDB developed action plans and have initiated a range of interventions and some are described hereunder:


Fodder resource development


In response to need for fodder expressed by farmers, cooperative milk unions are providing technical support and resources for establishment of “commercial fodder farms” with Hybrid Napier (Co-3 variety), which is a perennial fodder. In Vishakha milk union, Co-3 Hybrid Napier has been planted in an area of more than 220 hectares in the very first year. In the Guntur and Krishna milk unions “commercial fodder farms” have been established in 70 and 45 hectares respectively. The Nalgonda Rangareddy milk union established fodder demonstration units in all the milk chilling centers, while the Mulukanoor milk union developed a fodder demonstration unit at the milk union dairy plant to promote fodder production by farmers.


Feed material


The resource poor farmers from the Mulukanoor milk union pointed out non-availability of good quality concentrate feed material as the major constraint and rice polish was indicated as the concentrate of choice. The cooperative milk union initiated a supply of rice polish of good quality to farmers at reasonable cost.


Fertility in buffaloes


The Krishna, Guntur and Visakha cooperative milk unions responded to the infertility problems of the buffaloes by initiating an ovulation synchronization programme in their respective milksheds. Around 504 buffaloes were treated in 32 villages in the three milk unions and approximately 80% of them have already conceived. This has led to a reduction of the inter-calving period in the animals. Furthermore, 52 buffalo heifers that did not show signs of heat even after reaching age of about 3 years, are being treated with hormones. The success of such interventions has led to increased demand from more and more farmers for extending the coverage under this programme of treatment of infertility cases.


AI services


Situation analysis drew attention to lack of AI service facilities in the Mulukanoor milkshed. The milk union has collaborated with IndiaGen Limited, a specialized breeding service providing company, for providing AI services of high quality to the producer farmers.


Economics of dairy farming


Farmers’ perception regarding milk production becoming non-remunerative has led the Guntur and Mulukanoor cooperative milk unions to initiate a special study by organizing continuous recording of milk produced and inputs of the farmer for estimating the economics of milk production. The study will be conducted for a period of two years in 20 villages, with 400 farmers and covering approximately 1000 animals and is supported by NDDB. The findings of the study would provide a realistic picture of the economics of milk production by members of these milk unions and would also indicate factors having major influence on cost of production.


Model dairy cooperative societies (DCS)


The Model DCS is an innovative initiative of the NDDB and cooperatives milk unions in Andhra Pradesh. The DCSs chosen to be developed as ‘Model Societies’ strive to improve effectiveness and efficiency of the services provided to the farmers, quality of milk and working efficiency of the DCS. The five cooperative milk unions have accepted establishment of 30 to 60 Model DCSs in their milksheds. Lack of awareness among the producers on various dairy farming aspects was a major constraint and hence, the cooperative milk unions have initiated an intensive farmer awareness programme through lady resource persons (LRPs) in the Model DCSs. Further, the five cooperative milk unions have decided to incorporate the issues raised by the farmers during “situation analysis” in their respective Business Plans for next five years.


Linkage with related organizations


Large parts of Andhra Pradesh, India are rainfed, thus availability of water and fodder are major constraints. Linking of livestock development programmes with programmes like integrated watershed development, area-specific fodder development is crucial for sustainable development. A useful outcome of FPNE approach is realization of the need to establish linkages with related organizations to benefit from their strengths, particularly in areas like natural resource development and management and in awareness creation. Links have been established with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) at the International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Hyderabad for a partnership project on “Fodder Innovation” for conservation and sustainable use of fodder and forage diversity of specific agro-ecosystems. The project uses the participatory approach and makes available required fodder seeds, technical information on fodder options and cultivation practices to the farmers. The Krishna and Guntur cooperative milk unions are participating in the project and these milk unions, along with NDDB and ILRI, are presently identifying, establishing and strengthening the seed multiplication system. Linkages are also being established with other selected NGOs, by some cooperative milk unions, for implementing awareness programmes for improving productivity and quality of milk.


Impacts of FPNE approach


The major impact on farmers and staff of the cooperative milk unions from adoption of FPNE process is sensitization of the key stakeholders, i.e. extension officers, supervisors and farmers about future challenges and approach needed to meet the challenges. There is change in outlook and attitude of the concerned staff at all levels towards each other and their capabilities in the related fields have improved. The process has also drawn attention to constraints/ problems given high priority by the farmers and provides better understanding of reasons for low adoption of services and inputs provided to them. The technical inputs and extension service delivery is being made more effective, efficient and need based.


Another important impact is institutionalization of a systems approach and participatory process of planning, implementing and monitoring at all levels. Further, thrust is being given to empowerment of women through improved awareness, knowledge and skill development. Another impact is seen in form of interest shown in establishing linkages with organizations in related fields to get benefit of their strengths. 




The process of FPNE helps to draw the following conclusions:




The authors would like to thank Mr. Sudarshan Srinivas (former State Director), Dr. S Sivaiah, Dr. Lester Nunes, Dr.K V Prasad, Mr. Jaidev Biswas, Dr. K H Nagaraj, Mr. B V Mahesh and all other colleagues in National Dairy Development Board, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh (India) for their contribution and enthusiastic support in development of the FPNE model and providing with all the information for preparation of this paper. The authors are also thankful to the National Diary Development Board, Anand, India for encouraging the FPNE initiative. The views expressed in this article are that of the authors and does not necessarily represent that of the organization they represent.




Birthal P S, Kumar A, Ravishankar A and Pandey U K 1999 Sources of growth in the livestock sector. National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research. Policy paper No.9, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi.


Garforth C, Lawrence A 1997 Supporting sustainable agriculture through extension in Asia. Natural Resources Perspective. No. 21, Overseas Development Institute, London.


Lehman R, Vishwa R, Ramesh K S, Subramanyam S, Ray N and Waelty S 1994 Bovine and dairy development in Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad, Pp.14-103.


Maarse L, Wentholt W and Chibudu R 1998 Making change strategies work. Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam.


Morton J and Mathewman R 1996 Improving livestock extension through extension, information needs, institutions and opportunities. Natural Resource Perspectives. No. 12. Overseas Development Institute, London


NDDB 2004 Participatory approach. Diary: NDDB News Magazine. Volume 16 # 2, Pp. 3-4


Pandey U K 2000 Livestock in household economy. In proceedings of VIIIth annual conference of Agricultural Economics Research Association held at Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Chennai, 28-29 December 2000. Published by National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research, ICAR, New Delhi, Pp. 1-27


Rangnekar S D 1995 Livestock feeding by women. In proceedings of 7th AAAP Animal Science Congress, Bali, Indonesia. Pp.89 -101


Rao S V N and Kherde R L 1985 Dairy development through extension. Indian Dairyman. Volume 37 # 9. Pp. 391-396


Sen D and Venkatadri S 1997 Livestock development and poverty alleviation: participatory action experiences in dry lands. Journal of Rural Development. Volume 16 # 1. Pp. 39-49


Sulaiman R V and van den Ban A W 2000 Agricultural extension in India. National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research. Policy Brief No.9, ICAR, New Delhi


Thomas D and Rangnekar D 2004  Responding to the increased global demand for animal products: implications for the livelihoods of livestock producers in developing countries. In proceedings of Responding to the livestock revolution: the role of globalisation and implications for poverty alleviation, Ed. E Owen et al, British Society of Animal Science Publication 33. Pp.1-36

Received 21 April 2007; Accepted 10 July 2007; Published 4 October 2007

Go to top