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Empowering women with goats

Empowering women with goats

As part of one of its livelihood programmes, SRIJAN strives to fill the gap in the primary health care for goats and their rearing practices

Published on March 31, 2021 at 12:01 pm

Updated on July 29, 2021 at 02:26 am

All set to vaccinate goats in a Bundelkhand village.

SRIJAN is one of India’s premier grassroots implementation agencies working on enhancing the livelihoods and increasing incomes of the vulnerable communities in the poverty pockets of India. Bundelkhand is a region with a huge capacity for livestock, especially for small ruminants such as goat and sheep. Many of the smallholder rearers of goats are dependent only on goat rearing as their main source of livelihood. Due to the lack of primary health care for animals, the rearers face huge financial loss as the goats often get infected with diseases and also fail to receive proper medical care. These are the neediest of the goat rearers, who can only afford to rear 4 to 5 goats, but when the goats get infected with diseases and the rearers cannot get any medical care for them, they are compelled to sell their goats at cheaper rates to the local buyers due to which they are rendered vulnerable. The goat which has the potential to be a primary asset never reaches its zenith. This was the primary reason for SRIJAN to initiate a goat-based livelihood programme in Tikamgarh, Madhya Pradesh.

Goat-based livelihood programme

The SRIJAN team began a pilot project in 11 villages off the Jatara location of Tikamgarh district in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh. To fill the gap in the primary health care for goats and adoption of improved goat rearing practices (such as disease management, housing, sanitation management, feed management and breed improvement) at a minimum cost, SRIJAN promoted and trained a cadre of women called Pashu Sakhis. These Pashu Sakhis went through a rigorous 9-day training programme where all aspects of goat-based livelihood, health and disease management were covered. This was an online programme tailor-made got the lockdown conditions. However, as soon as the lockdown was lifted practical trainings were also conducted at the location. Currently, 11 trained Pashu Sakhis are working in their respective villages, providing goat health management services. SRIJAN has also initiated a tie-up with The Goat Trust, Lucknow to provide technical support to the Pashu Sakhis. The Pashu Sakhis started working from the post lockdown period. Starting September 2020, the women have been able to secure an average income of 500 rupees by providing symptom-based primary treatment and other inputs supply.

Pashu Sakhis adminster de-worming medicine to goats.

The Pashu Sakhis ensure that all the primary health care facilities (like symptom-based fast treatment with the help of herbal and Ayurvedic medicines, timely deworming, and vaccinations) are provided to the goats without fail.

Pashu Sakhis have also started making and selling inputs like Danamishran (concentrate seed mixture), Pashu chaat (mineral block). Till date, more than 1,500 goats have been de-wormed and 500 goats have been vaccinated for PPR. As a result of this, there is an increased total weight gain of 3,000 Kg.

All of these Pashu Sakhis promoted are women who belong to the same village that they are servicing. The mantle of Pashu Sakhis has boosted the morale of the women and also given them a sense of purpose. It is an eventful sight to see these women going around the village administering medicines and vaccines to the goats and earning an income through this entrepreneurial activity. In a very short time they have earned a lot of respect within their community and are receiving support from their families and the village paving way to their empowerment.

Pashu Sakhis with their kits.

“Goat is considered to be the poor man’s cow. It is an important asset for the poor and marginalized community in the rural pockets of our country. However, due to lack of awareness and neglect by the veterinary community, goatery has not been able to reach its true potential. At SRIJAN we are now beginning to focus on promoting goat-based livelihoods and health management practices as a major intervention. We strongly believe that this will be a profitable addition to the portfolio of livelihoods activities of the villagers and will increase their income in a very short time with a very low investment and least efforts. Also this will impact women directly and support them in empowering themselves,” says Mr Prasanna Khemariya, CEO, SRIJAN.

Lifesavers of livestock in the hinterland

Bati Bai Pal, a native of Vijraban village, Tikamgarh, Madhya Pradesh, initially refused to accept the service of de-worming provided by the Pashu Sakhi. She was always apprehensive of the Pashu Sakhi and was vocally against her.

In due course of time, one of her goats was about to deliver two kids. As the goat was extremely weak, it resulted in the abortion of the two kids. It seems the goat will also die. It was at this stage, Bati Bai turned to a Pashu Sakhi. The Pashu Sakhi delivered both the aborted kids through the training that she had received.

As the goat had grown extremely weak, the Pashu Sakhi initiated the treatment, provided her extra care and attention. In due course of time, the goat recovered but was still too weak and had rapidly lost more than 2-3 kgs of weight.

After her goat had fully recovered from the abortion, Bati Bai asked the Pashu Sakhi to de-worm her goat. At that time it weighed 27.8 kg. After de-worming Pashu Sakhi encouraged the owner to also provide danamishran to the goat for 15 days. When Bati Bai fed her goat with danamishran for 15 consecutive days, she observed a very rapid transformation in her goat. Her goat gained 4 kg of weight in two weeks and also became very active compared to the pathetic state it was in after the abortion. Now it is also ready to deliver a new set of kids and since it has recuperated fully, the kids are also anticipated to be born healthy.

Inspired by this development, Bati Bai’s attitude towards the Pashu Sakhi has changed. Now she regularly speaks to her, takes her advice, and follows her treatment to the last word. Presently she is adopting all the treatment and management practices as suggested by the Pashu Sakhi.

A Pashu Sakhi administers PPR vaccine to a goat.

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