An ongoing Nordic Climate Facility (NCF) project in Bolivia is aimed at supporting small scale dairy farmers in building a more resilient and diversified economy using new sustainable farming practices. And the results are promising.
In the targeted area, many families are dependent on subsistence farming and the income from the sale of milk and production of cheese. However, in Bolivia, the productivity of dairy cows is extremely low, with an average daily production per cow of 10 litres, compared to 25 litres in Denmark. Due to changing climate conditions, the production of feed and food crops are under serious pressure, threatening rural livelihood and food security.
The effects of Animal Biosa, a dietary feed supplement of fermented herbs with lactic acid bacteria, also known as beneficial microorganisms, are now being demonstrated amongst dairy farmers in the highland of Challapata and lowland of Capinota.
General feedback from the Bolivian farmers testing the product on their animals is that they achieve better animal welfare and a better yield. The average production of milk per cow given Animal Biosa is 25% larger than for cows that are not given Animal Biosa. Furthermore the SCC (somatic cell count) has decreased remarkably from 160.000 to 85.000, indicating better health of the animal.
“A daily supplement with Animal Biosa with fermented herbs helps to stabilize the microbiota, supporting the absorption of nutrients. Animals with an optimal intestinal function are more resilient towards stress in the gastro intestinal tract.”, explains Eli D. Nielsen, CEO of the Nordic project partner, Biosa Danmark ApS.
Besides the implementation of the dietary feed supplement, the farmers are testing new manure management practices. Current manure management is inefficient and unsustainable. The manure is simply left in piles without any further usage by the farmers. To utilize the manure in the local production of crops, the project has established infrastructure to produce compost using beneficial microorganism as a bio-stimulant, optimizing the composting process.
The idea behind this initiative is that the farmers will benefit from a more resilient and productive production of crops. The surplus of compost will be sold to the local project partner BIOTOP SRL and used to produce a highly valuable bio-fertilizer, with additional beneficial microorganisms.
“Adding beneficial microorganisms to the soil improves the growth environment of the plants. The plants´ root system increases, which optimizes the nutritional uptake and strengthens the plants towards climatic stressors,” says Eli N. Dollerup.
Experiments with potatoes have already shown very promising results, with increased quality and size of the potatoes, economically benefiting the farmers.
Besides contributing to a better economy of the farmers, the project strives to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses from the dairy production. Globally, the livestock sector represents a significant source of GHG emissions, with the main source of the sector emission coming from enteric fermentation in ruminants and manure management. New research indicates that a selection of lactic acid bacteria used in dietary supplements to ruminants and as bio-stimulant in processing manure can lower the emission of both sources. This is the same process that this project aims to utilize.
“We are very delighted that our products and technology can improve the livelihoods of farmers and dairy producers in these vulnerable areas, while at the same time having a positive effect on the environment. The project is very much in line with the vision and goals for the company and this we are very proud of”, says Eli D. Nielsen.
The project is being implemented by Biosa Danmark ApS in Denmark and Biotop SRL in Bolivia with financial support from NCF.