Para Technicians as Alternative Veterinary Service for Livestock Management

Artificial Insemination (AI) with improved semen has contributed significantly towards upgradation of local cattle and maintaining the genetic superiority of cross-bred cows. The artificial insemination has also been instrumental in reducing the calving interval through timely servicing and better conception. Together with the good marketing network, this practice has played a pivotal role in making the Operation Flood, a reality.

However, Artificial Insemination system itself had many constraints (See Box), which created a need for looking at alternatives.

The Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVK), initiated efforts in enabling farmers to access the services of Artificial Insemination for their livestock.  The KVKs in collaboration with local NGOs, promoted alternative veterinary services to unreached areas and the experiences of two KVKs in is described in this paper.

Case 1: KVK – Mitraniketan NGO, Trivandrum District, Kerala

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) established a Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) under the management of Mitraniketan NGO in 1979-80. Mitraniketan, located in Vellanad village of Trivandrum district, was already working towards  alternative livestock services, by providing artificial insemination service by collecting liquid semen from the bulls maintained in its farm. From 1979-80 onwards, the artificial insemination services were brought under the fold of KVK. One of the mandates of the KVK was to provide self-employment oriented vocational training programmes. The idea of promoting para-technicians served the dual purpose of helping the unemployed youth to be gainfully employed and also in providing service at the farmers’ doorstep.

The Animal Husbandry Department in Trivandrum district has 222 artificial inseminators in its network. The ratio of cows to artificial inseminator was about 1135:1. With about 80% of the cows being breedable, each artificial inseminator has to work with and monitor at least 980 cows in a year. The distribution density of cows in this district is 68 per sq. km. Thus, each artificial inseminator was required to cover at least an area of 15 sq. km. But, in reality, the coverage was less than 10, and the service remained, less than required.

Rural Extension Sub Centers (RESC) / Cattle Improvement Centers

The RESCs are sponsored by the local institutions like panchayat, youth club, village library, milk cooperative society, sports club or some NGOs. There are 22 RESCs in Trivandrum district established during the last two decades. Each serves 2-3 panchayats over an area ranging from 15 – 25 sq. km. Each RESC is managed by an Artificial Inseminator and is normally located in tribal and interior areas.  Few of them has one helper as an additional staff.

The youth sponsored by local institutions are trained for 2 months at the KVK. The local institutions provide the necessary infrastructure. The para technician purchases the minimum equipment required like cryocan. KVK provides the technical support and also the liquid semen at a subsidized rate. The para technicians exchange information among themselves, discuss problems and help each other when needed. In addition to the scheduled fortnightly meetings at KVK premises, they often have unscheduled meetings to plan for contingencies and to tide over the difficulties. The para technicians provide the insemination service at the rate of Rs.75, thus generating income.


The para technicians use several approaches to keep in regular contact with their clients. Farmers located in far-off and interior villages are contacted through contact telephones available in the village, petty shops, medical shops, milk societies etc. A register is maintained in the RESC to enable the visiting farmers to leave information on the services required, while the para technicians are away on village visits. On return, the para technicians check the register and ensure timely services. Record on every insemination is maintained which helps in monitoring the conception.

Impact on the project area


The alternative extension service provided to the dairy farmers by the RESCs and the KVK has several significant features. It has succeeded in filling the gap in the public extension service and thereby meeting the information and service requirements of the dairy farmers. Some of the salient features are given in Table I.


There is a significant impact on various aspects of livestock development since RESCs have started functioning. As compared to 1980, when the RESCs started functioning, currently, the percentage of breedable cows has increased from 54% to 68%, the age at first conception has been reduced from 28 months to 20 months owing to regular contacts and technical support, the conception rate has improved from about 24% to more than 40% due to timely provision of good quality semen, the inter-calving period has been reduced from 20 months to 12 months, simultaneously reducing the dry period from 8 months to 4 months, thereby enabling farmers to get one calving every year.


There has been a substantial improvement in the average daily milk yield from 1.82 litres  to 7.5 litres, thus enabling farmers to reap higher returns from dairy.


The para technicians, with the help of veterinary expert from KVK, provide the information on nutrient and disease management. Various camps on livestock health, vaccination, de-worming, infertility identification and its treatment are organised at appropriate times. As a result, most of the diseases and problems related to parasites and nutrient deficiencies, have been brought down. This was accomplished by mobilising communities on a large scale to get desired results.


Currently, 22 young persons are working as techno-agents in these RESCs. With an initial investment of less than Rs.5,000/- on critical tools and equipment and recurring expenditure on semen and the cost of mobility, these para technicians are able to earn a net income of about Rs.16,500/- a year. This income could be improved further to about Rs.19,500/- if they could use frozen semen supplied by the Animal Husbandry Department, if made regularly available.


Case 2: KVK – MYRADA NGO, Erode District, Tamil Nadu.


The Tallavadi block of Erode district is largely inhabited by tribal population. Owing to geographic remoteness, poor transport and communication facilities, these areas do not have access to, even minimum veterinary services. Demand for an alternate veterinary service was expressed by the tribal people during the participatory processes. The KVK along with MYRADA, initiated the concept of Animal Health Promoters, where a batch of youth selected from remote villages are trained for six months on various aspects. These include livestock upgradation, forecasting and prevention of seasonal diseases and other simple practices like first aid, vaccination, pregnancy test etc. The six-month training is a collaborative effort of the KVK, EDCMPUL (Erode District Cooperative Milk Producers Union Limited), Government Veterinary Hospitals, Milk Producers Cooperative Societies (MPCS), Commercial Dairy Units and Self Employment Training Institutes located in the area. The first batch of training was completed in April 2002. The trainees are attached to an MPCS for better rapport with the customers. Considering the fact that the average education being 10th standard, these youth have been doing a tremendous job with the guidance and support of veterinary doctors and constant monitoring and supervision of the KVK personnel.






Dependency on public extension is slowly reducing and the involvement of private extension is gaining momentum. The successful experiences of KVKs in Kerala and Tamil Nadu in providing benefits for both farmers and para-technicians have confirmed the approach as an alternative extension service for livestock management.



­­­Dr.M.J.Chandre Gowda, Senior Scientist (Ag.Extn.), and Dr.R.K.Samanta, Zonal Coordinator, Zonal Coordinating Unit VIII, ICAR TOT Projects, Bangalore 560 030


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