Learning livestock trade by drawings

Learning modern livestock rearing practices has boosted milk production and dramatically reduced animal disease in one farming community
The women draw the list of the various diseases their animals have had; it’s not short
November 2014, Charbagh, Swat: In the village of Naway Kalay Kot, the task of raising animals is women’s work. It is a heavy responsibility. A cow costs 200,000 rupees, a buffalo costs 150,000 rupees. Since they get just 100 rupees for a litre of milk, it takes a long time to pay back the investment. If an animal drops dead of disease, it is a catastrophe for the whole family. And disease is commonplace. About a year ago the village lost 10 buffalos on one day alone.

That is when the Village Organisation appealed to the PEACE project to help them learn new ways to deal with disease and to increase milk output. A group of 30 women was formed – and the Livestock Farmers Field School established. Once a week for a year the women met to learn about different treatments, to talk about their problems, to experiment with different cures and treatments, to chart progress and establish for themselves, from their own experience, what works best.

Drawing comes quickly and naturally now. Saadia proffers a drawing: depicting two pails, the one half empty, the other full “My milk production is up this much,” she says.

The women have been taught how to do all sorts of tasks using simple sketches: how to milk the cows so as to reduce the risk of mastitis, how to ensure a balanced diet, how often to water them, how to make sure their shelter is ventilated and clean, how to prevent diseases, which diseases are more prevalent at which time of year, how to prevent them, and how to treat them.

They can now confidently explain that a balanced diet and a mineral block really helps increase milk production. Income is up, not only because their animals are better fed and looked after, but also because they have fewer problems with contaminated milk.

Above all they have been taught to think, to observe their animals, to experiment, and to try to establish cause and effect.

They have tracked the various diseases they have experienced: mastitis, worms, red water, foot and mouth, fever, ticks, scabies, pleuropneumonia, worms – the list is long. They establish the times of years they occur, the risks, and what helps prevent them. Prevention is what they’re really focused on now.

If one woman introduces a change in diet to treat a disease, another will try a medicine, a third both. Then each tracks the result. They work in three teams of ten. The ones to get the most right answers, get little rewards.

Zeba proffers a drawing of a happy faced buffalo. “My buffalo talks to me,” she says. “She is happy now.” And so are the other women themselves.

“Milk, more milk, more money” – they chorus in Pashtun. That is their slogan.

Fact Box

Programme for Economic Advancement and Community Empowerment (PEACE)

EUR 40 million

October 2012 – October 2016

Saadia uses a drawing to show how much milk production is up
“They were dead shy at first but they’re certainly not shy now. They come here every week and have questions about everything.”

Bacha Jehan, teacher

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: