KOCHI: Did you know that the state-owned Kerala Livestock Development Board (KLDB) used to earn Rs 1 crore a month by selling frozen bull semen? That’s true but that was before the Covid-19 struck. The pandemic induced lockdown has dealt a blow to the board with restrictions severely affecting procurement and sale of semen, causing it to lose business worth Rs 1.43 crore.
A severe shortage of liquid nitrogen and lack of transportation facilities have stalled extraction, processing and transportation of semen at KLDB’s three bull stations at Mattupatti (Idukki), Dhoni (Palakkad) and Kulathupuzha (Kollam). Two agencies in Puducherry have been supplying liquid nitrogen to the KLDB. Due to the lockdown, the supply was affected.
And, a Rs 5.60-lakh order for semen from the Tamil Nadu government could not be me because of transportation hurdles. During the lockdown period, processing of frozen semen declined by 1,25,000 doses at Mattupatti, by 83,000 doses at Dhoni and by 15,000 doses at Kulathupuzha.
“The KLDB resumed the supply of frozen semen, liquid nitrogen and other inputs to the 2,961 artificial insemination (AI) centres in the state by May 4. However, indents for frozen semen have not been received from many AI centres as many of them are either closed due to the lockdown or lack of technical personnel,” KLDB Managing Director Jose James told TNIE.
‘Board processing semen of state’s indigenous Vechur & dwarf cows’
“We have to supply liquid nitrogen every 21 days, but what we have in our possession was used to save the semen doses already in stock,” KLDB MD Jose James told TNIE. The board’s main customers are the AI centres under the Animal Husbandry Department and the frozen semen is supplied to them at `55 per dose. Though dairy farmers are given the semen for free, the KLDB receives the cost as government subsidy.
Apart from this, the Mattupatti centre produces frozen bull semen using X-Y technology at `1,200 per dose for developing high-yield cattle breeds. The board also supplies semen to agencies in Tamil Nadu in the price range of Rs 40 to Rs 70 per dose. “94 per cent of the cattle in the state has now become cross-breed. The board is also processing the semen of Kerala’s indigenous Vechur cow and Kasaragod dwarf cow,” James said.