A study was conducted to analyze the economic benefits and effectiveness of distance education course on dairy farming among the learners. A total of 100 learners were selected randomly as respondents from the total of 221 learners who have completed the course during 2000-2005. The data were collected from the respondents through personal interviews and analyzed. All the respondents who underwent dairy farming course had increased their farm size, achieved body weight gain in their adult animals and young ones, reduced disease incidence and mortality and improved sale of animals and positive change in the net value of stock, which all implied that the knowledge and skills gained through the course helped the farmers to get enhanced farm benefits.
Realizing the advantages of distance education for livestock farmers such as learning at learners’ doorstep, suitability to transfer knowledge and skill even to the underprivileged, and ability to cover larger clientele, the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) started offering correspondence courses on livestock farming to livestock and poultry farmers since 1996. With the beneficiaries of these courses largely being livestock farmers and unemployed rural youth, the real impact of these courses on the learners has not been largely documented so far. Hence, this study was conducted to assess the impact and effectiveness of the distance education course offered by TANUVAS on dairy farming of three months duration on the learners, in terms of benefits attained by the learners.
Materials and Methods
The participants who underwent distance education courses on dairy farming conducted by TANUVAS during the period from 2000- 2005 were considered as the respondents for the study. A total of 221 participants completed the distance course on dairy farming during the above period, from which 100 learners were selected randomly as respondents, as shown in Table 1.
Table 1: Distribution of respondents in dairy farming course
|Year||No. Completed||No. Selected for the Study|
Data and Analysis
Interview method was followed for data collection. An interview schedule incorporating items pertaining to objective of the study was constructed, pre-tested and finalized for data collection. The data were collected during the period 2007-09 and were coded, tabulated and necessary analytical techniques were used.
Assessment of Economic Benefits Accrued by Learners
The production performances were measured by the change in farm size, productivity in terms of daily average milk yield and body weight gain at pre-enrolment and post-certification stages. The difference if any was ascertained and the percentage gain worked out. The production level of the farmers was measured both at pre and post-certification stages. The level of income increase through the sale of milk, animals, dung and products, net change in value of stock, number of inseminations per conception, percentage of mortality, number of animals infected and number of animals insured were ascertained at pre-enrolment and post-certification stages. The actual difference was obtained and worked out in monetary value, along with percentage gain.
Results and Discussion
Socio-economic Status of the Respondents of Distance Education Course on Dairy Farming
The profile of the respondents of dairy farming correspondence course is presented in Table 1. It is evident from Table 2 that an overwhelming majority (96 per cent) of the respondents was young to middle aged group and nearly one-half (49 per cent) had diploma and colligate level of education. Majority (88 per cent) had medium to high level of experience with small (upto 6.07 cattle) to medium (6.07 to 9.10 cattle) herd size.
Table 2: Profile of the respondents
|Small (upto 6.07 cattle)||49|
|Medium (6.07 to 9.10 cattle)||41|
|Large (above 9.10 cattle)||10|
|(a) Willingness to increase herd size|
|4||Experience in dairying|
|Low (upto 5 years)||12|
|Medium (5 -15 years)||78|
|High (16 years and above)||10|
|Low (< Rs.1,54,131)||62|
|High (> Rs.1,77,327)||26|
|Medium ( Rs.6,78,775 – 9,15,809)||20|
|High (> Rs.9,15,810)||19|
|7||Information seeking behaviour|
|8||Mass media exposure|
|10||Attitude towards distance education|
|12||Decision making behaviour|
|13||Level of aspiration|
|15||Extent of participation in training|
|Four trainings and above||1|
|16||Usefulness of the programme|
|51 to 60 %||3|
|61 to 70 %||7|
|71 to 80%||69|
|Above 80 %||21|
All the respondents were willing to increase their herd size. Majority of the respondents earned a low annual income (62 per cent) and made investment at low level (61 per cent) and over one-half (51 per cent) had medium to high level of information seeking behaviour and mass media exposure (59 per cent). Most (61 per cent) of the respondents had medium to high level of economic motivation. Nearly three-fourths (73 per cent) had medium to high level of attitude towards distance education and majority (64 per cent) of the respondents had medium to high level of innovativeness while over two-thirds (68 per cent) had medium to high level of decision making behaviour. Nearly one-half (46 per cent) had medium to high level of aspiration and two-thirds (69 per cent) of the respondents had medium to high level of achievement motivation. Majority (85 per cent) had attended one or more trainings and the rest did not attend training prior to enrolment in this course. An overwhelming majority (90 per cent) of the respondents had perceived the usefulness of the programme to an extent of over 70 per cent.
Economic Benefits through Increased Production in Dairying
The economic benefits obtained through increased production in terms of increase in farm size and milk yield of the respondents of dairy farming course are presented in Table 3 and discussed below.
Table 3: Economic benefits through increased production among respondents of dairy farming course
|Variables / Type of Farmer||Pre Enrolment||Post Certification||Gain|
|Average Farm Size (in cattle units)|
|Large (> 9.10)||7.540||13.200||5.66(75.07)|
|Daily Average Milk Yield (in litres)|
Figures in parentheses indicate percentage gain
It is evident from the Table 3 that the respondents who maintained small herd size (less than 6.07 cattle units) had increased their cattle units by 2.06. Whereas medium farmers (between 6.07 to 9.10 cattle units) had increased farm size by 3.38 cattle and large farmers (more than 9.10 cattle units) had increased by 5.66 cattle. The percentage gain in flock size ranged between 59.38 and 75.07. It could be observed from the above table, that the respondents who belonged to small farmer category gained an average milk yield of 1.64 litres of milk on a daily basis whereas medium farmers gained a milk yield of 1.69 litres per day and large farmers had gained a daily milk yield by 1.47 litres, with percentage gain ranging between 48.34 and 66.17.
The study revealed that the knowledge and skill learnt through the course was reflected by the increase in farm size and daily average milk yield among all categories of the farmers. This showed that the learners were practicing what they learnt in their real life situations which provided them opportunities for additional income and sustainable farming.
Economic Benefits Accrued Through Annual Net Income of the Households of Respondents of Dairy Farming Course
The annual net income of the respondents households were analyzed through sale of milk, dung, animals, net change in value of available stock, number of inseminations per conception, mortality percentage, number of animals infected with diseases and number of animals insured. The details of annual net income of the respondents of dairy farming course through the above parameters are presented in the Table 4 and discussed below.
Table 4: Economic benefits through net income per annum per household of respondents of dairy farming course
|S. No.||Variables / Type of farmer||Pre enrolment||Post certification||Gain|
|1||Average number of inseminations / conception|
|2||Average number of animals infected with diseases|
|3||Average mortality in percentage|
|4||Average number of animals insured|
|5||Sale of milk (in rupees)|
|6||Sale of dung (in rupees)|
|7||Sale of animals (in rupees)|
|8||Net change in value of available stock (in rupees)|
Figures in parentheses indicate percentage gain
The net income per annum through number of inseminations / conception among the small farmer category gained by 0.5 insemination / conception and for medium farmers it gained by 0.6 whereas for large farmers it was 0.9. The results showed that, medium to large category of dairy farmers had 59.62 percentage gain in terms of successful artificial insemination and there by conception than the small category of dairy farmers. The annual net income of the respondents through the savings in number of animals infected by diseases was three for small, two for medium and for large farmers it was nine. This showed that, the rate of disease incidence was less in small farmers than the medium and large dairy farmers. Table 4 further revealed that the annual net income through the reduction in mortality percentage was nil for small farmers and 0.01 per cent for medium and large farmer categories. It revealed that, the average mortality percentage among all the category of farmers was almost nil, which showed a remarkable percentage of gain among the respondents of the study. The net income per annum of the respondents of dairy farming course through the number of animals insured was found to be two for small farmers, six for medium farmers and 15 for large farmers. All these predisposing factors mentioned above towards increased production and productivity exhibited substantial percentage gain.
It could be observed from the table that the respondents of small farmer category gained an additional income of Rs.24,637.50 per annum whereas medium farmers had gained Rs.28,554.23 per annum and large farmers gained upto Rs.53,029.29 through sale of milk. The percentage gain in these categories ranged between 73.38(medium farmer) and122.26 (small farmer). The increase in net income per household per annum through sale of dung was found to be Rs.856 for small farmers, Rs.1, 353.85 for medium farmers and Rs.2, 262.86 for large farmers, with a percentage gain ranging between 59.46 and 75.00. It was found that through sale of animals the incremental net income per household per annum for small farmers was Rs.734.48 (135.67 percentage gain), Rs.1042.85 for medium farmers (31.47 percentage gain) and for large farmers it was Rs.1189.66. Further, the net income per annum through net change in the value of available stock in case of small farmers increased by Rs.40,100 (155.79 percentage gain) and in case of medium farmers it was Rs.71,076.92 (138.74 percentage gain) whereas for large farmers it was Rs.1,11,957.14 (164.92 percentage gain).
It is evident from the Table 3 that there was a remarkable economic gain noticed after certification by the respondents of dairy farming courses through the sale of milk, dung, animals and by the net changes in the value of available stock followed by considerable gain recorded through reduced number of inseminations / increased conception, reduced percentage of mortality of animals infected with diseases and increased insurance of animals, both in terms of absolute value and percentage gain. The study revealed that there was gain in the farm productivity through increased production and savings through farming expenditure. This showed that the distance education course maintained the standards and quality which made positive impact among the learners. Also the learners were able to translate what they learnt into practice, resulting in economic gains.
Effectiveness of Distance Education Programme in Terms of Economic Benefits Obtained by the Respondents of Dairy Farming Course
The data collected for the analysis of economic benefits were further subjected to statistical analysis to find out the effectiveness of distance education programmes with regard to economic benefits. Paired‘t’ test was applied to find out whether there was any significant gain in production and income from pre-enrolment to post-certification stage due to the knowledge and skill gained and applied. The results of‘t’ test with respect to the respondents of dairy farming course according to the herd size category are given in Table 5 and discussed in this section.
Table 5: Effectiveness of distance education programme in terms of economic benefits obtained by the respondents of dairy farming course
|S. No.||Variables||Mean Gain||‘t’ Value|
|1||Farm size (in cattle units)||2.06||3.38||5.66||9.92 **||12.70 **||5.22 **|
|2||Average milk yield (in litres)||1.64||1.69||1.48||9.13 **||9.68 **||12.32 **|
|3||Sale of milk (in Rs.)||24637.50||28554.23||53029.29||11.28 **||10.82 **||5.67 **|
|4||Sale of dung
|856.00||1353.85||2262.86||9.92 **||12.70 **||5.22 **|
|5||Sale of animals
|734.48||1042.86||1189.66||8.50 **||3.63 **||4.52 **|
|6||Net change in the value of available stock (in Rs.)||40,100.00||71076.92||111957.14||14.56 **||14.36 **||6.87 **|
** Significant at 1 per cent level
The above table indicated that there is a highly significant gain in production and income in all categories of farmer’s viz. small, medium and large farmers with respect to farm size, milk yield, sale of milk, dung and animals and net changes in the value of available stock. The remaining parameters viz., number of inseminations / perconception, percentage of mortality, number of animals infected with disease and number of animals insured did not exhibit any statistical significance.
The study revealed that, distance learners made full use of the course applying the knowledge gained in real life situations for economic gain which showed tangible results. Hence, the study exhibited a significant gain in production and productivity among dairy farmers.