A Real Cash Cow Improves Livelihoods
"The cow is an improved breed and yields more milk than the local breed – that is why it needs special care and attention," says Thulimaya. In just five months, Thulimaya earned around NRs. 50 thousand by selling cow milk. Just like Thulimaya, 14 other women from forest dependent households in Pipara Simara received support from the Hariyo Ban Program to purchase the improved variety of cow.
The buffer zone community forest adjacent to Pipara Simara was facing immense pressure from open livestock grazing and firewood collection, leading to forest degradation. To reduce pressure on forests, the Hariyo Ban Program provided a grant to Janahit Buffer Zone User Committee (BZUC) to help initiate alternative livelihood options for the adjacent communities. In collaboration with Janakalyan Saving and Credit Cooperative a revolving fund was instigated to support cow farmers.
Budhimaya Tamang, one of the cow farmers from Pipara, says, “In the past, I used to collect firewood from the forest and sell it for money. Today I am old and have difficulty to do so, thus having this cow is a blessing. I don’t have to take it to the forest for grazing as it can be stall fed and there is not much work do."
Compared to the local cow or buffalo that gives around 3-4 liters of milk a day, this new breed of cow gives 10 liters of milk. In addition, the milking period of the cow is around 10 months while that of a local cow and buffalo lasts for only 4-5 months.
To purchase the cow, a subsidized loan of NRs. 21,000 with 12% annual interest was provided to 30 selected households by the Hariyo Ban Program, amounting to a total of NRs. 630,000. Since the cost of a single cow amounts to Rs 50-90,000 the remaining amount was credited from the same cooperative with an interest rate of 16% per annum. An insurance scheme to protect the community's investment in cattle was also initiated. A partial payment of an insurance premium of Rs. 3430 for each cow was provided by the Hariyo Ban Program. In addition, to protect and restore buffer zone community forest, Hariyo Ban supported the Janahit BZUC to erect 6 km of fencing.
For technical assistance, the cooperative is establishing a linkage between farmers and veterinary service providers. A three-day cattle farming training is also proposed for these farmers on correct management of this improved cattle breed that requires more specialized knowledge and skills. "Coordination with government line agencies for plantation of improved variety of fodder plants in private and public land to support the cow farmers is also underway,” shares Madhusudan Sitaula, Chairperson of the savings credit cooperative.
The support for high breed cattle is expected to improve livelihoods of 30 households and save the adjacent forest from degradation and deforestation.
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Disclaimer: The Hariyo Ban Program is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this article are the responsibility of WWF and its consortium partners and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.