For marginalised households, a source of steady income that is not connected to agriculture can be a life saver. Under the Tata Trusts' Parivartan Lakhpati Kisan project, goat rearing is one of the sustainable livelihoods that helps bolster household incomes. Last year, the SBI Mahila Bachat Gat – a self-help group (SHG) of 12 women – was selected to take up the goat rearing in Mukindpur village of Ner taluka in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal district. The selection of the group was based on two factors – the financial needs of the women, and their willingness to put in the effort to make the business operational and successful.
The women in the SHG are all from severely marginalised households with an annual income of barely Rs35,000. They earn their livelihoods as agricultural labourers earning Rs150 for a shift of eight hours manual labour. The income is not enough to meet the basic needs of the household.
The women were first made aware of what running a goat rearing business entailed, and they were taken on an exposure visit to another similar project. Once they opted for it, they put in an amount towards community contribution. They were given eight sessions on capacity building and technical training on commercial goat rearing.
Having healthy goats is important for the sustainability of the business; the SHG was trained on what breed of goats can survive in their local environment. The group visited various markets to source good quality animals. They took quotations from different vendors and finally purchased 44 goats from the Mahalakshmi Dairy and Goat Farm in Mahuli Jahagir. Goat insurance was a part of the deal.
A plot of farm land was leased by the SHG and they supervised the construction of a concrete goat shed. A worker was hired to manage the daily chores and given a 3-day residential training on goat rearing at Varul Jaulka, in Akot district. The Trusts’ team made fodder, concentrate feed, medicine, feed and water equipment, etc, available to them.
That was the start of the goat-rearing enterprise. The members of the group visit the shed regularly and take turns to oversee the worker and instruct him. The SHG has tied up with Joyous Agrrivision Farmer Producer Company in Ner taluka, to buy and sell goats at good price levels.
The lives of the women have changed drastically in the months since the project started. Before starting this business, they had not been exposed to making deals in large markets. They earlier bought, reared and sold goats but would make far less profit. They did not have any training in running a commercial enterprise, and they were not confident of handling a large number of animals. The pandemic led to some setbacks. Getting access to nutritious feed and fodder was another learning.
Now the women are confidently buying and selling animals themselves and managing all bank transactions by themselves. They are respected by the people in the neighbourhood. Together the group has overcome many difficulties in starting and running a new business.
The enterprise is slowly expanding with breeding stock being added. The goat rearing business – a joint Tata Trusts - HDFC project in Maharashtra – is helping to change lives.