The Little Big Buffalo Project- Fagvel village, Gujurat, India (Sept, 2012)

by tkos on September 12, 2012

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The Kindness of Strangers are pleased to announce the launch of The Little Big Buffalo Project.

After much searching, we have finally found our fifth project of the trip, in a small rural village called Fagvel, about 80km from Ahmedabad, Gujurat, India. It certainly was no easy feat to find and could not have been accomplished without the help of Soham and Shobhan, who work for a company that specialise in this type of research.

So what is the Little Big Buffalo Project?

The Little Big Buffalo project takes inspiration from the multi-national charity ‘Heifer.org‘ and the lesser known Kosovan clan called ‘Jam for a Cow‘. The idea is to change the lives of a small number of families with a view to ensure long term security whilst enabling the project to grow and eventually empower the whole community.

So to do this, we bought two widows with children a buffalo and a female calf, each.

How did we find the families and how do they ‘qualify’?

 

This is potentially the most challenging part of the project. There are so many poor families in India, how do you choose just two? And how are we qualified to find and choose them?

The short answer is, we’re not. That’s why we enlisted the help of professionals. A local micro-finance company, who would rather not be named due to conflicted interest, generously donated their time, expertise and research to help find our chosen families.

The criteria was:

  • ‘Ultra poor’ status. Would not be able to qualify for a micro finance loan and must earn INR 1,500 per month or less. (GBP £17.60 or AU$27.30)
  • Single parent family
  • Must own a small amount of land or access to an area in which to house a buffalo
  • Must have prior agricultural experience

Why are buffalo a good idea?

 

Buffalo are the main source of milk in India, and the state of Gujurat has one of the best dairy co-operative initiatives in the world.

Each buffalo produces up to 10 litres of milk per day. This milk is deposited daily to the Amul dairy farm, where the bearer is paid in cash every ten days. The price, depending on the quality and the fat content of the milk (more the better), is approximately INR 30 per litre. Half of this income goes back to the buffalo in terms of food and health requirements, whilst the other half is net income for the family.

If the buffalo produces 8 litres of milk, 25 days of the months and half the income goes back to the buffalo for food, then the family will gain INR 3000 per month..

Buffalo’s are relatively low maintenance, yet still, there is great assistance from many third parties. The Amul Dairy Farm assist in an artificial insemination breeding program, medical costs for the buffalo  and deposit stations for milk are set up all over the state, local to every village.

How is this project community based?

 

The two buffalo given are five and six years old respectively. Generally, buffalo’s breed once a year between the ages of three and eight, but have a lifespan of ten to fifteen years. The women in this project were gifted the buffalo on the following condition:

  • Once the calf had matured and produced a female calf of her own, both animals are to be gifted to an ‘ultra poor’ family to provide them with the same opportunity. This is to be conducted within three years.
  • No buffalo are ever to be sold if the family have less than two buffalo at any one time. If, through reproduction, the numbers multiply and especially if male buffalo are born, the family are free to sell the buffalo.

What happens now:

 

As with all TKOS projects, we always ensure there is a project manager who is local to the area and has intimate knowledge and understanding of all details. We are delighted to announce that Shobhan Modi has volunteered for this crucial role.

Shobhan will visit the area every three months and report back to TKOS any and all necessary information. He will assist the families with anything that they might need in regards to the buffalo and offer guidance where needed.

The total cost of each buffalo with calf was INR 34,000 including transportation and veterinarian medical checks. That equates to £800 for all four animals.

And with a little luck, the two families and the many more to follow will all live happily ever after.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah September 12, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I know I gave you props on facebook, but wanted to comment here as well….speaking from my experience in the NGO world, it is great to see travelers in India contributing in a thoughtful, intelligent way that actually makes change. Keep up the great work!

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Charles Victor September 13, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Fantastic!! It had to have something to do with bovines in India, didn’t it?? But I’m really glad you guys found something here!

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