Rice Revolution Role of Dairy Centres
By Ananda Ariyarathne
The 'gist' of the Rice Revolution is the 'Strength of Human Resources' as the 'Pivotal Base' for all the other activities, and the so far 'underutilized' human resources becomes the 'Prime Mover' that can generate the 'locomotion' for the project.
Raw and unskilled Human Resources shall have only a very low, and therefore negligible, cost against an enormous potential with an infinitive value. Once organized, it shall be a pool of labour of at least fifty (50) persons readily available of offering a minimum of four hundred 'man hours' a day of eight hour duration wherever such labour is deployed. Although, individually a person cannot secure such opportunities, as an organized body, it becomes a potential of value. That in turn shall provide the opportunity to be engaged where labour is needed so, that every minute becomes economically productive.
Human Resources - The main asset of a nation. The stability of a nation depends completely on its Human Resources. With an education system which had and has been maintained more as an unavoidable burden than an answer to the needs of our 'nation' does not show any signs of positive changes in the future too, and has become an inescapable reality as all the indications point towards an empty destination.
This becomes a matter of waiting for disaster to arrive as unproductive labour is obviously on an increasing trend.
The traditional belief that the educated would get an opportunity to be employed has already become a mirage. The question is simply where even an educated youth cannot find employment, how could the 'inadequately' educated youth get employment?
The myth that the 'free economic' principles shall find the answers to the problem of finding avenues for the placement of the educated youth is no longer valid as only a very small number of such qualified youth get meaningful employment. It is needless even to think about the inadequately educated or uneducated youth for whom there shall be no salvation.
It is really frustrating to note that even the latest National Budget has failed to recognize this national requirement. It is obvious that the meaning of the National Budget has been completely misunderstood. One track minded taxation does not show any positive attempt towards poverty alleviation. The best and the most direct solution is to turn Human Resources into a highly productive force. The initial impact of rural youth getting employed in considerable numbers is the immediate improvement in the 'Purchasing Power.'
What is the sector in which opportunities can be created?
Agriculture is still the main sector that can employ the largest number of citizens and it in turn is linked mainly to Rice Cultivation and that is how a Revolution becomes the 'Launching Pad' for all the sectors, though the nation's Finance Minister has obviously forgotten or deliberately ignored the significance of Rice Cultivation. The establishment of a Human Resources base at village level would facilitate a solution for the crisis of the absence of farm labour in Rice Cultivation.
It is really alarming to note no prominence has been given to agriculture except for the indication that the Dairy Industry and Poultry Farming which have being noted by the Minister of Finance as sectors that would be granted attention.
Organized labour in Dairy Farming
Starting with Rice Cultivation, the whole strength of the 'Labour Company' or 'Labour Cooperative Society' may be deployed in that sector, and once essential activities of cultivation are covered, the requirement of labour shall be less. It becomes a challenge for these 'Labour Companies.'
The success of Rice Cultivation shall depend on the lowered cost of cultivation and therefore the reduced cost of labour which is the main factor. The second most important factor in Rice Cultivation is the Cost of Fertilizers. What are the best possibilities for this?
About a century ago, a farmer's household had at least two cows and a bull to be used to pull the cart. It was after the beef-eating culture was introduced by Europeans that the number of cattle in a village was affected. Although it was not in a big way, cattle contributed a lot to Rice Cultivation. But now, it cannot be revived in the same lines as there are limitations to feeding grounds and the labour required to look after those animals.
The more eco-friendly activities of traditional rural economies can be revived to be based on a framework suitable for modern trends along with the potential in rearing dairy cattle. It can be developed as a 'symbiotic' factor in Rice Cultivation which can function as the main driving force in rural development.
Community Dairy Centres of Labour Companies or Societies
Although there is much talk and various programmes launched to increase milk production, the approaches towards the ultimate goal look fairly confused with programmes that look more like isolated attempts than a concentrated effort under a National Master Plan
The organized Labour that comes under the Labour Companies can provide the labour required in running a well organized Dairy Centre and depending on the potential, the number of such centres may also vary.
Initially, the project can start with one Dairy Centre per Grama Niladhari Division (GND). On a land obtained on a'Revenue Sharing' basis, such a Dairy Centre can be established to accommodate at least fifty cows. 'Samurdhi' recipient ladies can become the legitimate owners of cows.
Those fifty cows can be kept in a common shed built with cemented floor sloping toward the longer sides of the shed with the feeding trough kept in the centre for the length of the structure. Cow urine can flow along the drains sloped towards pits provided at one end to be used as the chambers for 'Bio-gas' production. In such a shed only the milking cows can be kept.
A certain number of members of the Labour Company can be attached to the dairy centre on a regular basis. Daily cleaning of the sheds, bathing of animals and required veterinary attention are to be handled by trained members. As each cow is numbered and registered, the milk output is recorded for accounting purposes. The Revenue generated shall be through sales of fresh milk and milk products, and organic fertilizer produced for the Labour Company. The assigned members shall be engaged in gardening projects on suitable plots of land on the same Profit Sharing basis. During cultivation and harvesting, their labour shall be available for rice cultivation and naturally, such work may be based on shift systems or Over Time arrangements. A dairy centre shall be run strictly on a 'profit' oriented structure and such centres will be encouraged to produce more value added dairy products so that the produced 'Bio gas' shall not go to waste.
Management of a Dairy Centre
Management shall be by the same Labour Company that may be floated for Rice Cultivation on GNDs and may have community dairy centres as a subsidiary activity. Owners of cows would be 'Samurdhi' recipients ideally and will be entitled to a percentage from the profits.
The other possibility shall be for them to become members of a dairy society and to own shares in the labour Company. The concept is to attract more people to join the process and become more conscious about the role they play in their contribution to the National Economy, that would in turn, bring in self esteem and dignity rather than being looked upon as some 'glorified beggars.'
Or else, there can be separate dairy societies amalgamated into a Federation of Dairy Centres for stabilisation.
In such a case, it may become possible that all the owners are given the opportunity for employment in the Subsidiary Dairy Unit of the Main Rice Cultivating Company. The main objective is to provide such needy people to shift from their dependence from a dole systems like 'Samurdhi' to become small scale entrepreneurs so that they will learn to stand on their feet. Operation can be as given below:
It is ideally suitable for all to belong to one Company or Society so, that the Dairy Centre stands the opportunity to be benefitted from the progress made by the larger labour company. If it becomes an independent unit, the original expectation of getting organic fertilizer can become complicated. This way, organic fertilizer can be delivered to the Rice Division or any other Cultivation Division on a Cost plus Percentage basis, for billing and payments.
The Board of Directors of the Company shall appoint a Dairy Manager and others as required with employment benefits. This will provide decent 'employment opportunities' for educated youth. This relationship is vital as the 'cattle-feed' shall be based on hay collected from fields.
Profits generated shall go into building Share Holdings of the members.
When the cost of maintenance of a cow is recovered with the minimum margin agreed, the owner has to replace it with a suitable cow. The idea is to continue the production capacity. But, as the Labour Companies shall be earning revenue, securing high yielding cows of better breeds can be achieved, gradually.
While dairy centres shall depend on paddy farming for 'feed,' rice cultivation shall be supported by providing the organic fertiliser there by achieving an eco-friendly solution. It also shall help in keeping production costs in rice cultivation
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