Dutch and Indian farmers and veterinarians exchange knowledge

The Natural Livestock Farming Foundation promotes and organises international cooperation between farmers, veterinarians and scientists in the Netherlands, India, Uganda and Ethiopia. An exchange of knowledge about the use of herbs in dairy farming is a central feature of this. The foundation is in part supported by Oxfam Novib.

(www.naturallivestockfarming.com)

Arie Boorsma, CEO of Biochemproducts, took part in an exchange with India in 2015 and was a guest of the Institute of Ayurvedic and Integrated medicine (I-AIM) in Bangalore for a week. Boorsma: ‘My visit to southern India was a culture shock: there are immense differences between Dutch and Indian dairy farmers. The farmers there are usually women and they have on average no more than one or two cows. But because there are so many Indians, this involves massive numbers. The use of antibiotics is also massive; they can be bought on any street corner and are used very frequently, often inappropriately.

In all countries the growing resistance of bacteria to antibiotics is a problem and it is becoming increasingly important to find alternatives. Scientists across the world are searching for solutions in the plant world.

The I-AIM Institute in Bangelore is inventorying and studying medicinal plants, combining the age-old Ayurvedic health system with modern medical science. I-AIM is working closely with Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Science University (TANUVAS).

Boorsma: ‘There is a great deal of knowledge available, but turning this into practice is still not yet occurring sufficiently. I am supported in my conviction that we (BIOCHEM, ed.) are on the right track. The healing properties of, for example turmeric, aloe vera and garlic have been accepted in India for centuries. We also use these herbs in our products and achieve excellent results with them.

In cases of mastitis the veterinarians of I-AIM promote a herbal mixture of aloe vera, turmeric and calcium hydroxide. This mixture is ground to a paste and must be applied to the udder of the sick cow a minimum of six times a day. Its effect is encouraging, but the application is very labour intensive. Boorsma: ‘If you have only one cow this may be quite manageable, but when you have large numbers of livestock, as is usually the case in the Netherlands, it is a problem. And then you need more user-friendly methods,’

If you would like further information:

Groene Antibiotica. About the experiences of dairy farmers and veterinarians in the Netherlands and India, who together are seeking to find ways to reduce the use of antibiotics.