SOS Children’s Villages of India, an international NGO dedicated to the holistic development of children without parental care, has been supplying green fodder seeds at subsidized prices for the farmers of the villages of Routhulapalem, Korada, and Yathapeta of the Visakhapatnam District, Andhra Pradesh, and facilitating in the cultivation of forage crops for grazing.
The goal of this outreach project, titled, Pashu Grasha Kshethra, is to increase the income of farmers, which in turn would help them take care of the food, health, and educational needs of their school-going children better.
Launched in two phases in 2016 and 2019, the project is being implemented with the support of the Department of Animal Husbandry, Government of Andhra Pradesh. SOS Children’s Villages is also organizing livestock campaigns on screening and vaccination of animals regularly, besides supplying medicines at free of cost for the livestock.
The number of beneficiaries, at present, include nearly 150 farmers who are able to cultivate green fodder for their livestock comprising over 250 cows, 50 buffalos, and 80 goats and sheep. The benefits also include increased yield of milk in cows and buffalos, and increased meat weight in goats, and sheep.
Commenting about the Pashu Grasha Kshethra project, Mr Sumanta Kar, Senior Deputy National Director, SOS Children’s Villages of India, said, “There are about 500 farmers in the villages of Routhulapalem, Korada, and Yathapeta of the Visakhapatnam District for whom livestock is the only source of income. They have a total livestock of about 900 cows, 280 Buffalos and 250 goat and sheep. But in the backdrop of increase in price of dry fodder, and non-availability of green fodder, feeding their livestock has been a big struggle.
With low returns, the families of farmers continue to remain below the poverty line and these families have school/anganwadi-going children below 12 years, who are not getting adequate parental care. Hence, we stepped in and launched Pashu Grasha Kshethra, as an outreach ‘family strengthening’ program, to boost the income of farmers from livestock farming, with the support of the Department of Animal Husbandry, Andhra Pradesh.
In a phased manner, we could help the local farmers create green fodder fields. Today nearly 150 farmers are able to cultivate green fodder and ensure that their livestock which comprises over 250 cows, 50 buffalos, and 80 goats, and sheep are well fed. As a result, the milk yield from cows and buffalos, and meat weight in goats and sheep has increased.”
In India, livestock serves as an insurance for about 12 crore small and marginal farmers in India in the event of crop failures. However, the country is currently facing an acute shortage of animal fodder. What adds to the woes of the distressed farmers is the rising cost of dry fodder such as straws and other crop residue, and the cost of concentrates like oilseed cakes and crushed pulses. For instance, the price of dry fodder, usually sold at Rs 600-700 per quintal, has reached Rs 800-1,000 in the recent times. Since fodder is the single biggest cost item in livestock farming, constituting upto 70% of the cost of maintaining animals, any increase in fodder cost further reduces the income of farmers.
In addition to boosting the income of farmers from livestock, SOS Children’s Villages also facilitates in the formation of Self Help Groups, and helps farmers get loans from banks for milch animals, goats, and sheep. The NGO focuses on capacity building at various levels by ensuring that the villagers avail the benefits of various developmental and social security schemes of State and Central governments. Importantly, it sensitizes the local community on child rights and child protection.