Rathnamma and her husband live in G Kothapalli village and belong to a marginalised community. She depended on the wages from MGNREGS as her primary livelihood and is the sole earner as her husband is chronically ill and cannot work. She is an active member of an SHG and as a result was able to avail a loan and buy 2 cows. The Income from the sale of milk added to her livelihood. However, in recent months’ fodder costs increased and dairying became unprofitable for her with having had to almost sell her cows.
A hydroponics unit consists of racks and trays depending on the per day feed requirement. The input requirements are typically 750gm- 1 kg of maize per tray. There is a water requrirement of roughly 7-10 liters per day which can be supplied using a solar powered water pump with a timed sprinker.
Income increase for small and marginal farmers owning 2-4 cattle can be between INR. 23,800 and INR. 46,000 per annum. This is a consequence of two aspects:
The production of green fodder from hydroponics reduces the expenditure on externally purchased feed. Roughly this would result in savings of between INR. 7,800 and INR. 15,000 per annum
A hydroponics unit was installed at her house where she learnt how to raise green fodder from the unit. This not only cut down her costs on buying fodder from markets but also ensured higher yield of milk due to her cows feeding on more nutritious green fodder. Her income levels have approximately improved by INR.1500 to INR 2,000 per month. This has also resulted in time savings as she needed to access green fodder from common lands or from farmers with irrigation facilities.
Increased production and quality of milk (increase in fat percentage): Milk production typically increases by about 1 liter per cattle and could be upto 4 liters for each small farmer household. This means an increase in income of approximately between INR. 15,000 and INR. 31,000 per annum.
Savings in time and increased convenience: Growing fodder in hydroponics units requires roughly 6-7 days. This reduces the time and effort involved in accessing green fodder from common lands or irrigated lands of other farmers. As mentioned earlier, much of this benefit is seen by women who are primarily responsible for dairy farming activities within the farming household.