A case study of Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute
The dairy sector, an allied sector of agriculture, can do well with the utilisation of data-driven digital innovations. While the key utility of such digital innovations lies in strengthening the management information system by enabling online real-time data collection, it can also be used for documentation and processing of research activities across scattered locations ranging from research stations to community-level villages. Here’s a look at how this is playing out for the Dairy Development Research Project (DDRP) at the Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute (BLRI).
The Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute is the key institute for livestock research in Bangladesh, with five regional stations across the country. The institute has been in the process of developing livestock and milch-cattle based technology which could later be handed over to the Department of Livestock Service (DLS) so that any such technology developed could be disseminated throughout the country using extension services.
As a part of the dairy development initiative, the method of artificial insemination has been in practice in Bangladesh for nearly 45 years. But it had not followed a specified mating plan or a breeding policy approved by the government. It was inevitable that the experiment did not bring out the expected results, with the crossbreds manifesting reproductive failures and being far more disease-prone in comparison to local cattle breeds. As there had been no record-keeping of any kind during the whole mating processes except for a few research-oriented breeding programs, it was impossible to track back and reckon what had gone wrong and where.
The BLRI then decided to initiate a Dairy Development Research Project (DDRP) to produce a high-yielding sustainable breed by crossbreeding local breeds with purebreds. For this, they decided to crossbreed the local Pabna with the exotic Holstein Friesian pure breed through a systematic breeding plan across four generations. The project also aimed to establish the least cost dairy ration formulation, and prevent and control major dairy cattle diseases following epidemiology study in the project areas.
This was also the time when the Government of Bangladesh was attempting to digitise the country to bring about ease and efficiency in its operational systems. And it was precisely the time when BLRI too was looking for a software solution to establish a digital data recording system to lead its smart dairy research initiatives. Many of such projects would involve data collection not only at the research stations but also at the community level. Such cloud-based software solutions are not easily available in Bangladesh, but it was at this opportune time that BLRI came into contact with SourceTrace’s solutions, which could be deployed to lead its digital research work.
BLRI had, by now, developed the first generation of cattle through the local line and crossbred lines. The farmers had also started rearing these crossbred animals. SourceTrace’s farm management solution is now used to collect data on profiles of the farmer, the farm, and the cattle. This includes a farmer’s personal information and socio-economic profile. When it comes to the farm-related details, it captures animal baseline information including genotype history of the animal.
It also captures farm pictures with GPS coordinates, geo-plotting and physical position on google maps. Secondly, the solution is used for input and output trackings, such as inputs fed to the animals, like feed, vaccines, etc., as well as output parameters such as milk yields. Additionally, it is being used for breed history tracking that would contribute to developing a digital cattle herd book. Besides, the solution is also used for managing records of training and camping events, recording details of the program events and participants. Lastly, it is used for monitoring and evaluation of the growth and development of the breeds and their performance.
All in all, the solution has established itself as a sort of “dairy-suite”.
In short, the farm management modules help to identify all the farmers uniquely and provide basic information about their farms and its animals and generate a unique registration number, so that traceability and genotype history is ensured. The research data module, on the other hand, includes all the records from the research station and community levels, which include cattle herdbook and population, breeding and reproductive records, and phenotypic characterisation and growth traits records.
The research data collection ensures that the regular cattle population at the farm with their detailed breeding and reproductive performances are recorded. This is helpful as a data-recording solution for phenotypic features, growth rate attributes, milk production and nutritional health records of cattle towards breed development. All of this data will provide processed information that helps decisions on feeding, vaccines and deworming.
The research data will also record the regular cattle population at the farm with their detailed breeding and reproductive performances. Such records will provide action points on feeding, vaccines, deworming, artificial insemination or medicine on a regular basis. This is done against each farm, wherein it generates a distribution report in the web in a real-time basis, with authentic evidences.
“Cost of farming” module helps in analysing cost-benefit analysis for a particular period of time from a farm. This can be done both at the research station level and community level. Moreover, the scientists and field staff involved in the project get complete and accurate information of the milk yield, daily feed, animal health/ disease status or any other critical research information on a timely basis and in a cost-effective manner.
“We find the solution user-friendly, but what also makes it cost-effective is the capability to collect fully authentic data via mobile phone from farmers at remote community levels. The feature to be able to edit or update the collected data is an added advantage” says Dr. Md. Shahjahan, Senior Scientific Officer of DDRP
“The solution has been able to solve the challenges in collecting critical research data, particularly from remote farm level with its team of a limited number of scientists.” Md. Azharul Islam, Chief Scientific Officer, BLRI, &Project Director, DDRP
With the successful experience of using SourceTrace’s software for its dairy development research project, BLRI will soon be incorporating another of SourceTrace’s solutions for an upcoming dairy breed development project involving goats.
Today, at SourceTrace we’re happy to share our moment of pride and fulfillment, having made it as the cover story in the Food and Beverage Tech Review.