This report will serve as the final report for this project. Elanco Animal Health will be providing funds to cover the remaining costs of the project...thanks to all for your donations and support. Please visit www.heifer.org for more information.
Comparative Experiment Improves Farmer’s Methodology
Yangebai Township in Weichang County lies between the Yanshan Mountains and the Mongolia Plateau. Year after year, its villagers save money to buy cattle and raise them in the local hills. However, mass animal husbandry threatens desertification and decreases available grazing land. Heavy rains have eroded the hillsides and blocked cattle trails, leaving small-scale farmers in a harsh cycle of poverty. Heifer International introduced in-barn cattle breeding technology and taught villagers how the environmentally friendly method could produce higher profits. Yet, the majority of farmers were unwilling to invest the labor required to build new breeding barns. By conducting comparative experiments, Heifer China transformed farmers’ opinions on the newly introduced breeding method. Three demonstration farms were established with 10 cows each. Cattle from the first farm were kept in an unheated barn and fed through traditional grazing. The second farm used a heated barn, still used traditional grazing. Cattle at the third farm were kept in a heated barn and fed nutrient rich silage. Data recorded from January 1 to March 30, 2013 confirmed in-barn breeding produced healthier cattle. Cattle without heated barns lost 25 to 42kg (about 55 to 93 pounds) in 150 days. Heated barns and silage helped cattle gain up to 1.2kg (about 3 pounds) per day. The experiment helped farmers understand the function of heated barns and silage and eliminated farmers' worries about investing in new barns. In the spring of 2013, project participants planted 542 mu (about 90 acres) of silage corn, which was tenfold over production in 2012. During the summer, 360 project participants collectively built a new barn and began transitioning from traditional methods to in-barn breeding. This eased the threat of hillside desertification and improved livestock living conditions. The community also executed a desertification prevention plan. Participants planted grass on 250 mu (about 41 acres) of desertified hills to repair damage from erosion and over-grazing. Now, participants can restore hillside ecology and transform small-scale farmer’s socioeconomic status through improved cattle breeding.
Since project implementation, Heifer Zambia has reached 8,510 families (2,300 more than planned) and 23 institutions in the target communities of the Masaiti, Mpongwe, Luanshya and Kalulushi districts. The project continues intervention activities to improve participant’s skills and knowledge in integrated agriculture, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation practices. Local institutions have also adopted these practices through the support of community leaders.During this reporting period, 379 families have been supported with draft cattle, dairy cattle and meat goats. Ninety vegetable packs were provided and 8,066 participants were trained in human nutrition, agroforestry, conservation farming and water and sanitation activities. Trading, gardening and farming have improved the incomes and livelihoods of numerous families. Farm families were able to hire labor and acquire production assets such as land, livestock, bicycles and ox carts. Project participants also bought iron roofing sheets, beddings, mattresses and solar panels for their homes.
Training Helps Woman Become Role Model in Indian Community
Kaushallya Devi has become an extraordinary example for women in her community. Although she is considered part of the poor, “untouchable” social caste in India, she manages to provide for two daughters and one son. Before joining Heifer India, her only income was generated from agriculture and working as a day laborer. Her husband had helped support their family, but an accident left him mentally disabled. Her difficult situation became worse when her brother-in-laws denied her family help. Devi felt hopeless and was now solely responsible for her three children and her husband’s treatment. Heifer India’s project holder, Ghoghardiha Prakhand Swarajya Vikas Sangh (GPSVS), approached Devi and encouraged her to join the project Promoting Socio-economic Transformation of Marginalized Communities through Agriculture and Livestock Management in Madhubani. Her poor economic condition led her to join the project. She contributed to the Self-help group’s (SHG) monthly saving fund and received training on SHG management. Devi eagerly participated in every training and group activity in order to build a better life for her family. Heifer’s intervention also allowed her to receive training on Heifer’s 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development, gender equality and women’s empowerment. Her dedication and talent made her an excellent candidate for a Community Animal Health Worker (CAHW). Over 10 days of training, Devi learned about animal care and treatment at the GPSVS Center. She advanced quickly to Improved Animal Management (IAM) training and received a medicine kit to begin treating livestock. Now, she provides local communities with basic veterinary care and earns enough income to support her family’s needs. Devi generates 125 Indian rupees (about $2) per day and more than 3,500 Indian rupees (about $57) each month. This income may seem meager, but it allows her children to attend school and pays for her husband’s treatment at Dharbhanga Hospital. Devi said although she still has struggles to overcome, she will continue to learn. “I may walk through dark valleys, but I will still work for my economical sustainability and a better future.”