Initiative Result:

Transforming Nepal’s dairy buffalo through partnerships

Buffalo farmers reaping benefits from higher milk productivity, improved fertility and feeding practices in Nepal.

A co-investment partnership between Sustainable AnimalProductivity, rural municipalities and milk cooperatives in six districts of the eastern Terai region has yielded substantial transformation in the dairy buffalo value chain. Through the partnership,  village livestock promoters (VLPs), jointly supported by the three organisations, are now able to provide an integrated package of inputs and services to farmers aimed at enhancing buffalo farmers’ efficiency and livelihoods breaking silos between feed, health and genetics extension and paving the way towards economic sustainability. What is actual challenge? Demand from farmers needs to be spelled out in the beginning.

Sustainable Animal Productivity, rural municipalities (RM) and milk producer cooperatives (MPC) agreed to co-invest to improve buffalo productivity in Nepal. The three partners are signatories of a Letter of Understanding (LoU) for collaborative action to improve the dairy buffalo value chain within targeted dairy cooperatives situated in six districts of the eastern Terai namely Sunsari, Saptari, Siraha, Dhanusha, Mahottari and Sarlahi.

In this cost-sharing approach, partners agreed on activities including: organizing fertility management camps, improving nutrition, buffalo genetics, value chain development and building the capacity of farmers, technicians, veterinarians, and the value chain actors. Dairy buffalo productivity in Nepal is low and farmers are faced with challenges of accessing quality inputs and services. Before the Sustainable Animal Productivity project,  farmers prepared feed at the household level using locally available ingredients like corn flour, rice bran, wheat bran, seeds, and oilseed cakes. However, inefficient feeding practices, including the lack of chopping dry fodder and inadequate awareness of balanced diets, led to feed wastage and suboptimal utilization.

Village livestock promoters (VLP) were identified and selected from self-employed extension service providers as a possible solution to address the  challenges facing the dairy buffalo farmers. Training modules were extended to Veterinarians/Veterinary Technicians from the district Veterinary Hospital, and Livestock Service Expert Centre (VHLSEC) and focused on reproductive management and health of buffaloes, animal nutrition,  biosecurity, general health and hygiene. The VLPs now organise fertility camps and provide extension services on nutrition, reproduction and data recording on animal reproduction and genetic selection, besides building farmer capacity and transform delivery of inputs, services and information.

To improve the diet quality, an integrated nutrition package (INP) was developed by Sustainable Animal Productivity researchers and partners and implemented through the VLPs. The package consists of nutrient balancing (using a digital tool), chopping of green and dry roughage, supplementation of roughages with concentrates in the required quantity and use of improved forages and upgraded straws/stovers.

Use of the INP yielded substantial improvements in daily milk production for the 2500 farmers reached through the initiative since its inception two years ago. Sai Krishi Cooperative located in outer Terai region, for example exhibited lower milk production compared to the other cooperatives before the intervention. Most of the cooperative farmers initially reported a modest milk production of 4.5 to 5.5 litres per day, but later observed a notable improvement post-intervention, with daily yields ranging from 5.5 to 6.5 litres.

Beyond milk, other improvements in the areas of health and reproductive performance are also reported. The positive feedback not only underscores the program’s success in addressing and mitigating challenges but also the viability of the partnership approach. However, even with these achievements, challenges persist in farmers’ adoption of best practices. Moving forward, Sustainable Animal Productivity will focus on using joint
interventions to promote best practice on balanced diets, record keeping, improved buffalo sheds, access to finance and capacity building, and regular fertility and health improvement camps.

We are glad to say that the co-investment approach in Sustainable Animal Productivity motivated our coop and local government to share the costs to the tune of NPR 190,000 and NPR 500,000 respectively to implement productivity improvement programs in our area to  benefit our member dairy farmers as otherwise we could not have implemented it because of low affordability, though the project is  interesting.

Hari Har Singh (Chairman,Small Farmer Agricultural Cooperative Limited, Kantibazar, Gaushala Municipality – 12, Kantibazar, Madhesh Province)

Header photo: Buffalo keepers in Nepal. Niels Teufel/ILRI.

CGIAR Centers



Rural municipalities; milk cooperatives.