When Dr. P. P. Nilufer took charge as the first women veterinary surgeon in the Kavaratti dairy farm in Lakshadweep, everyone in the island was doubtful if she could do the job well. Gradually, she became their favourite and has now successfully completed one year at the job. Despite the hectic job schedule from 7 am to 7 pm, she shared some information about the dairy farm and the animal husbandry in Lakshadweep to Mathrubhumi.com.
Nilufer is the only daughter of Dr. P. Attakkoya, who is the Director of Lakshadweep Animal Husbandry Department, and P. P. Kunjeebi. She studied till class 10 in Kalpeni school and completed Plus Two from Edappally Al-Ameen School and Ernakulam St. Theresa’s School.
From Kalpeni to Mannuthy
She was familiar with veterinary hospitals and dairy farms as her father was a veterinary doctor. So she was sure about what career to choose after schooling. When Nilufer came to know that not even a single girl had ever joined the course BVSc (Bachelor of Veterinary Science), she determined to follow her father’s career path.
Thus she joined for BVSc in the College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences in Mannuthy and completed the course in 2016. Also she completed internship from different places in Kerala including Thiruvananthapuram Zoo.
Accepting first job
When she was preparing to go for higher studies, she was appointed as Vet Surgeon. So, Nilufer decided to work for a while before going for higher studies. In April 2017, she joined as the Veterinary Surgeon in Kavaratti dairy farm.
The island dwellers were not broadminded to accept a lady veterinary surgeon treating their animals. People hesitated to approach her in the beginning. But things changed gradually and now Nilufer is the first one people would search for to treat their animals.
Love for dogs and cows
Nilufer was fond of dogs while she was studying. But after joining the job, she has developed a liking for cows. Though she was not very familiar with treating cattle during her studies, she picked up fast and befriended them.
Kavaratti dairy farm
Kavaratti dairy farm is under the control of Lakshadweep administration. Milk production is the major activity here. The milk yielded from the farm is distributed to the patients and pregnant women in hospitals. Only 40 litres of milk was got in the beginning due to the lack of sufficient care.
The cows were being fed with coconut leaves instead of grass and cattle feed. The first challenge was to change the food habit. Thus they started grass farming in places owned by animal husbandry department. Now the grass from these farms are used to feed the cows. After the food habit was altered, there was more milk yield and grew to 100 litres per day.
Round the clock at farm
The works in the farm begins from 7 am and may wind up only by 7 in the evening. She ensures treatment for cattle in the area apart from those in the farm. As the milk production in the farm increased, she could make people understand the importance of the right feed for animals.
After the milk supply in hospitals, the surplus milk is sold for fair price. 200 ml milk is sold at a cost of Rs 7. This fetches a good income. A total of 16 staff including a veterinary surgeon are working in the dairy farm presently.
Nilufer is proud of being able to create her own identity within one year. Lakshadweep administrator Farooq Khan had appreciated Nilufer for her efforts to better the activities in the farm. Also she is happy for being able to double the milk production.
The scarcity of cattle feed, medicines, difficulties in reproduction of high quality breeds are the major challenges in this sector. The lack of water for the irrigation of grass farming also is a challenge. Since the water available in Lakshadweep is salty, they use drinking water to irrigate the grass.
Hit by Ockhi
The damages that occurred during Cyclone Ockhi were disappointing. The grass that have been grown in the farm were destroyed in the cyclone and also two cows died due to the sudden climate change.
No case of rabies
Major diseases found among the cows in Lakshadweep are deficiencies of calcium and magnesium. But there is no threat of foot-and-mouth disease in the island. Most common pet animals in the island are goat, cow, cat and hen. No case of rabies was reported here which is an achievement of the animal husbandry department here.
Plans for future
Nilufer has decided to focus on developing awareness among the farmers in the island regarding the importance of giving the right type of food to the cattle. Also a veterinary operation theatre with modern facilities is required here. The administration and animal husbandry department is giving full support for the activities in Kavaratti dairy farm.
Higher studies for mother land
Dr. Nilufer spends even holidays in the farm taking care of the cattle. She has not dropped the plan to go for higher studies. She wants to pursue her studies in a subject related to marine fisheries research. She is determined to continue working for Lakshadweep only, even after completing higher studies.