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Farmers can’t escape

Farmers lost their confidence on getting profit from Agriculture. From the bottom Panchayath level to Central spending so many crores in Agricultural sector. Farmers are not getting any benefit from it equally on their share in farming.  Once the economists said that the inflation is due to the price hike of food produces in India. Unfortunately the hike of Inflation visible from the past few decades. But the inflation of food produces is only 14.3% which is calculated from Wholesale Price Index (WPI). At World level maximum Countries are calculating inflation on Consumer Price Index (CPI).

In India, wholesale price index is divided into three groups:

1. Primary Articles (20.1 percent of total weight), Food Articles from the Primary Articles Group account for 14.3 percent of the total weight.

Food articles wholesale price is controlled by the middlemen. Farmers are not entitled to fix the selling price of his produces. The public distribution system, many other Govt agencies are available to control the price of food produces in the market. Thus farmers can’t get the benefit of inflation. If the inflation is calculated for 65 years  as base year 1949 the inflation rate may be higher up to 2000. To reduce the inflation rate the economists purposefully changes the base year periodically. In 1985 the labour wage of a male worker will get Rs. 20 per day and now he gets Rs. 700 per day due to Inflation. Unfortunately any of the agricultural produce gone up below 4 times. The salary and pension are increase more than 35 times including DA. HRA, TA, Promotion and other allowances are above the inflation rate.

2. Fuel and Power (14.9 percent)

The price of Fuel and Power are controlled by the State and Central Govts. These will be hiked on the basis of inflation which is a burden for farmers.

3. Manufactured Products (65 percent).The most important components of the Manufactured Products Group are:-

(i) Chemicals and Chemical products (12 percent of the total weight)

(ii) Basic Metals, Alloys and Metal Products (10.8 percent)

(iii) Machinery and Machine Tools (8.9 percent)

(iv)Textiles (7.3 percent)

(v) Transport, Equipment and Parts (5.2 percent)

All these manufactured products price are fixed by the Manufacturers with profit and other expenses.  BICP stands for Bureau of Industrial Costs and Pricing (India), they will not harm the industry on pricing.

The Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices  giving reports to Govt of India. All reports by CACP are in papers only, because farmers are not aware on these reports and farmers are not united to fetch the positive result from it. An interesting Study  on the price indices of few Agricultural produces in Kerala which was submitted to CACP by Dr. Yageen Thomas in 2007, who was the head of Statistics Dept in Kerala University.  A Report  Submitted before the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices related with Coconut and it’s byproducts in 2008 by Dr. Yageen Thomas. Coconut Development Board  spending more money for the development of farmers. In 1985 for plucking coconuts from 50 trees I have to give 15 coconuts and Rs. 2 only. For the the 15 coconuts he was able to sell it at Rs. 75  where the labour wage of a male worker in agricultural sector was Rs. 20. Now the farmers have to give Rs. 1000 for plucking coconut from 50 trees. Above all shortage of workforce in Kerala is an another issue. Many of the labour in Kerala including rubber tapping now work force from North Eastern States who are able to get the wage in their States from Rs. 150 to 200 per day. Kerala is a Gulf for them to fetch a better income to their families. Young educated in Kerala are not interested in Agriculture, they need white color job  to get a bride or groom at their status. How ever inflation goes up and farmers income is going down which creates waste land every where. The farmers or work force are not interested to build their children  on their own standard. For better income to farmers they are using fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides for better yield which is harmful to the environment and health of flies, Animals, livestock and human. With out controlling the inflation farmer can’t escape from his suicide attempts. Thus the calculation of Inflation must be on Food Articles WPI  only. Farmers capability to use manufactured products is a must for the economic growth and self sufficiency of the Nation.


Farmer, Market and Price

An AIR programme “vayalum Veedum” aired on 19-03-2015 with a discussion between Muraleedharan Thazhakkara and Chandrasekharan Nair in Malayalam. There are so many farmers who are saying that farming is profitable. Unfortunately they don’t know the real facts. The faulty calculating system on Inflation by the economists all over the World is responsible for the trouble suffered by the farmer. The significant jump has been arrived at by simple arithmetic – shifting the base year from 2004-05 to 2011-12 to reduce the figure of Inflation. Measuring the market prices in addition, the GDP for the current fiscal is projected at 7.4 per cent. No body is bothered on the reasons of suicide attempts of farmers. The agricultural loss is the main reason for the suicide attempts of farmers. Inflation is the reason for the DA hike of Government servants and pensioners at both Center and State. DA will be merged periodically with basic salary. An old study by Dr Yageen Thomas who was the professor and head of Statistics Dept, Kerala University lime lights the reason for the suicide attempts by the farmers. As per the study in 1983 the basic salary including DA for an university assistant grade 11 was able to get Rs 798 (HRA and other allowances are not considered as it changes from place to place), a person freshly posted as Assistant Grade-11 during 2015 would draw Rs 25020 basic pay and DA. Hence, by considering 1983 as the base year, the salary index of Assistant Grade-11 during 2005 at the entry level is 3135%.That is the present salary at the entry level of the post has been swelled to an extent of 31.35 times that of 1983.

From my personal diary, I too have noticed that labourers who were engaged to do agricultural works in the premises of my house during 1983 were given a wage of Rs. 20/- per day. But for the same work in 2015 March, the wage given was Rs. 750/- per day. Hence, by taking 1983 as the base year, the wage index of Agricultural labourers during 2015 is 3750 %. That is the present wages of Agricultural labourers has been swelled to an extent of 37.5 times that of 1893. The above indices will reflect the overall growth of wages/salaries over all sectors of Kerala.

Approx price of a medium size coconut at present is Rs 12.5. Thus I conclude that, if justice has to be done to coconut farmers, the Government have to give a salary of Rs. 7.58  x 798 = Rs. 6049/- per month to an Assistant Grade-11 instead of the present total salary of Rs. 25020/- or the price of coconut has to be increased to Rs. 31.35 x 1653 = Rs. 51822/- per 1000 nuts of medium size.

In order to do justice to the rubber farmers, the Government have to increase its price of rubber to Rs. 31.35 x 16.7 = Rs. 524/- per kg for RSS 4 grade sheets.

The following audio broadcast by AIR Malayam at 6.50 PM on 19-3-2015

An opinion of the same by Dr Thomas Varghees, Retired Professor and head of Soil Science Dept, Agricultural University, Kerala

Dairy cow Feeding— Few Important Concepts

Dairy farming as a business proposition has caught up in a significant way in the country particularly among the youth. There is a distinct shift in Dairy farming with mini sized and medium sized farms replacing the hitherto system of rearing of 1-2 cows for sustenance. The most important challenge such farms face is the rising feed costs of conventional compound feeds, oil seed cakes, grains and bran’s. Since feeding alone forms nearly 80% of the production cost in Dairy enterprises the objective to reduce the feeding costs needs no emphasis. Availability of green fodder and dry roughages in required  quantity too is a constraint that affects Dairy farm profitability. Increased feeding of grains and concentrate mixture to offset this gap not only raises the input costs seriously compromising the economic viability of farming but also adversely affects the digestive process in the animals causing mild (Sub clinical) to severe acidosis and deterioration in the general health of the animal. This can be overcome by feeding roughages and concentrates in right proportions on the lines of TMR (Total MixedRation). It is in this context that a singular wholesome feed like TMR (Total Mixed Ration) which caters to most of the requirements of the body as well as the production demands, in an economical way, becomes significant. TMR can also be designed at the farmer’s level depending on the availability of ingredients.

Some important concepts dairy farmers have to keep in mind while feeding their animals are given bellow,

The Dry matter (DM) requirement of cows: Unless the DM needs of cow is satisfied production and reproduction will be sub-optimal, hence DM requirements of a cow has to be carefully considered while planning any feeding program.DM requirements in cows depends upon their Body weights ,lactation and also the stage of lactation. The requirement of DM in lactating cows is given bellow,

Milk Yield 400-450 kgs 500-550 kgs 600-650 kgs
10 litres 2.6% 2.3% 2.1%
20 litres 3.4% 3.0% 2.8%
30 litres 4.2% 3.7% 3.5%
40 litres 5.0% 4.4% 4.2%

Lactation cycle: Understanding lactation cycle commercially and feeding dairy animals accordingly is of utmost importance for profitable Dairy farming.

Lead Feeding (2 to 3 weeks pre-calving) :To allow rumen bacteria to adjust to changes in the ration, the cow should be started on some grain, and the level increased slowly before calving time. Two weeksbefore the expected calving date, increase the cow or heifer grain allowance to a maximum of 1% of her body weight as grain. This is lead feeding. By calving day, 4 to 5 kg for Holstein cows and 3 to 4 kg per day for Jersey cows is appropriate.

In Total Mixed Ration (TMR) fed herds, offer 6 to 8 kgs of the milking cow TMR (Containing Conc. and dry roughages) as lead feed  recalving, plus green grass. Gradual adjustment to the milking cow ration is essential for keeping cows eating and healthy.

Early lactation: This is the first 60 days also called the profit period in the lactation cycle when the milk yield reaches its peak. During this period the cow cannot consume the DM requirement as per the needs of production due to certain physiological reasons leading to negative energy balance in high producers and the cows go down in condition. Due to this suboptimal dry matter intake during early lactation the cow has to depend on her body stores for the nutrients to achieve peak milk yield. The adipose tissues witness a high rate of lipolysis and a very low rate of lipogenesis and the dairy animal is in negative energy balance leading to severe stress and poor immune status, making dairy cows and buffaloes are more susceptible for metabolic disorders and diseases. A cow in early lactation can lose as much as 20 to 50 kg of fat in 6 weeks time, roughly equivalent to a new born calf’s body weight. Feed containing high energy and protein must be fed during this phase alongside Rumen undegradable protein (By pass protein).

Challenge Feeding (Early post-calving feeding)

With proper lead feeding, cows get on full feed quickly after calving. For the first few days after calving, don’t increase the grain above what was offered pre-calving. Feed high quality green fodder and offer several pails of warm water to reduce the stress of calving. Keep the cow eating and the rumen full to prevent twisted stomachs and milk fever.

About 3 to 4 days after calving, challenge feed your cows and encourage high peak yields by increasing the feed offered. Offer a high protein feed in addition to the major grain (energy) feed in early lactation.  Start the protein supplement during the first few days of lactation. Protein stimulates appetite and feed digestibility in the just fresh cow. Protein requirements in early lactation are high, at 19% of the diet DM. At peak milk production the protein requirement is 18%. Try to get cows up to the maximum amount of the high protein feed by 2 weeks into lactation. Increase the grain fed gradually. Cows pushed too fast will go off-feed. Most cows can tolerate an increase of 1 kg every other day during the first week, 0.5 kg every other day in week 2 and 0.3 kg every other day in week 3. If lead feeding levels were adequate, this schedule will get cows to their maximum grain and protein intake by 3 to 3 1/2 weeks into lactation.

In TMR (Total Mixed Ration) fed herds where 2 milking cow rations (high and low production level) are fed, cows can be moved into either group. Feeding some TMR prior to calving will help cows to adapt to high levels of grain in the TMR. Keep cows eating by feeding TMR free-choice.

Mid lactation and late lactation: Minimum forage to concentrate ration of 40:60 is suitable during mid lactation. More roughage (less grain) can be fed to cows in late lactation or at low production levels. Forage: Concentrate ratios above 80:20 can support 20 kg of milk yield if roughage quality is good.

Dry Cow Feeding (Dry to 3 weeks pre-calving) Under ideal conditions, dairy cows produce milkduring 305 days of the year and are dry the remaining 60. In reality, feeding for high production shouldbegin during the dry period or towards the end of the previous lactation, since feeding in this period determines the peak lactation, reduces negative energy balance and also prevents metabolic diseases.With dry periods of 60 days, there´s enough time to regenerate the mammary tissue. Dry periods shorter than 30 days and longer than 70 days reduced lifetime productivity. Dry cows should be in good flesh before the dry period begins. The cow is more efficient at restoring her own body condition when milking, than when dry. She should gain back lost body reserves during mid-to-late lactation. Cows should neither gain nor lose body condition while dry. Daily grain allowance after dry off will depend on roughage quality. When roughage quality is poor, 1.5  to 2 kg of grain may be required daily to maintain cow body condition. If roughages are good, but cows are thin, 1.5 to 3 kg may be required to allow for moderate and gradual weight gain during the dry period.

A balanced dry cow ration should contain adequate fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. A proper dry cow ration prevents metabolic diseases and retained placentas and keeps cows on feed at calving.

Dr.R.UnniKrishnan B.V.Sc & A.H ; M.V.Sc

+91 9000262634/+91 9447150613


TMR – Total Mixed Ration


India is the largest milk producer of the world and milk has been marked as the number one farm commodity. Dairy farming is also recognized as one of the engines in ushering rural prosperity. Milk production in India, is by far the domain of small farmers in a mixed farming system . Recently livestock production has taken a new turn by venturing itself on commercial basis. Farmers rearing cross-bred cows ranked higher feed cost as the first and foremost major constraint. It is imperative to say that in this recent system of intensive livestock production, increased concentrate feeding has increased the milk production cost and substantially decreased the profits of farmers. The increasing cost of feed ingredients,scarcity of quality commercial feeds and seasonal variability also adds to the gravity of the situation. Some of the common ingredients that go into dairy rations across the country are maize, oil seed cakes, bran, straw; commercially available concentrates green fodder etc in varying proportions also depending on its availability and price.

TMR (Total Mix Ration):

To overcome this challenge of availability of quality feed at economical price TMR (Total Mixed
Ration) holds great promise and potential.

TMR contains the Concentrate portion,(which essentially caters to Protein and Energy requirements of the animal),the roughage portion (which caters to the fibre needs) mineral mixture and vitamin supplements in the correct proportion to meet the production and maintainace needs of the animal.

In large sized farms across the world TMR feeding is the rule. Protein rich ingridents, Energy rich
Carbohydrates,vitamin and mineral mixtures, Fiber in the form of hay and silage are added in a TMR wagon and mixed thoroughly. The quantity of ingredients is calculated taking into account
the herd size,the average body weights of the animal and the daily milk production. Fat percentage of milk also is taken into account for making a TMR. The bottom line being the final product must deliver to the cow the correct proportion of CP,ME,Fibre (ADF & NDF) and minerals and vitamins. Some larged sized farms in India too make their own TMR at their farm level.

However in states or areas where all the ingridents are unavailable or have to be transported from far off areas,making TMR at the farm level will not be economically feasible. The state of Kerala faces this problem. In a bid to overcome this a commercial TMR SR TMR(where green fodder has to be fed extra) has been introduced which has found great acceptability across the state.

Advantages of TMR :

TMR delivers the correct proportion of concentrate and fibre to the cow,which helps in maintining good rumen environment of the cow.

TMR helps in mainting of good body score or body condition which in turn helps overcome reproductive problems.

TMR helps overcome SARA,and corrects milk fat depression.

TMR helps economical milk production.

TMR significantly helps reduce the labour costs.

TMR addresses environmental pollution,due to decreased methane production.( As a result of

increased Feed efficiency )

In farms that use Brewery waste and other agro-industrial wastes feeding TMR also helps

reduce the stink and smell associated with such ingredients.

How TMR corrects and improves digestion :

Concentrates consists of protein rich and energy rich components. It is mostly grains and other soluble carbohydrates which forms the energy component. The soluble carbohydrates gets digested and converted into VFA s in the rumen at a very fast pace. VFA s being acidic causes a drop a in rumen Ph.VFA production could also exceed the absorption capability of the rumen,resulting in VFAs filling the rumen. The complaint generally referred by farmers as “Gas” or by professionals as bloat. The drop in ph makes the rumen environment highly acidic and acidic environment also triggers multiplication of lactic acid producing bacteria in the rumen. A viscious cycle sets in leading to Acidosis,and laminitis due to release of Histamine in large quanties. SARA or Clinical acidosis leads to milk fat depression,reproductive inefficency,hoof problems and at time even death depending on the severity of the condition.

TMR since it contains concentrates along with fibre component delays the digestion process. While the rumination increases. Increased rumination leads to increased salivation and inturn increased production of Sodium bicarbonate which helps keep the rumen pH stable at 5.8-6.2.

We also have another feed Protein meal,which contains between 35-40% CP. Feeding this @ 1 kg/day to cows yielding up to 16-18 litres a day will definitely improve milk yield.

For those yielding above 20 litres recommend at the rate of 2-3 kg a day along with 8 kgs of TMR.

Dr.R.Unni Krishnan

B.V.Sc & A.H ; M.V.Sc

+91 9000262634

+ 91 9447150613