Profitable small ruminant farming

  • Arindam Bala
  • Both sheep and goat rearing playing increasing significant role to promote livelihoods of backward communities is becoming more popular among unprivileged village women, and turns to reliable profitable enterprise at rural area in Sylhet. By using, therefore, unique techniques like platform (Macha) methods as well as preventing some fatal diseases, a good number of farmers have overcome impediments and rearing husbandry animal in well, thus they earn more profit with a small investment. Rearing domestic animals like goat experience difficulty sometimes due to environmental hostile behavior.
  • In precarious environment, it is extremely challenging for such animal (goat) to cope up with adverse weather because cold wave, excessive rainfall and humidity are main culprit for disruption of their normal life, and frequently they take on some health problems like cold fever, coughing, skin diseases and so on. On the other hand, due to lack of vaccination and unhygienic housing may lead to outbreak of fatal disease like Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR), is much common in Bangladesh especially in northeastern part resulting a huge number of goats lose their lives every year in the countryside and a great deal of farmers are financially affected.  Some farmers, perhaps existing challenging, have gained success on small ruminant farming.
  • Hazera Begum, 41, wife of Fazlu Miah, Dhonokandi, Khadimnagor, Sylhet, has adapted sheep rearing. Though sheep farming is less valuable animals than cattle, they have been able to bring a happy life for Hazer’s hamily. Earlier there was little means of income source in her family and they survived under poverty line with five family members, and their livelihoods pattern fallen in challenging, and had to straggle a lot to bear their family cost by Hazear’s day labor husband’s small income. They even have no any scope for farming activities in agriculture land. After that sheep appears in front of them as bless for their family.
  • We know sheep are smaller and yield less meat. However, they can live in much more rigorous climatic environments than cattle. They can live on the scanty pasturage of semi-arid regions, in excessive rainfall, cold wave, rocky, exposed upland areas and even in very wet regions such as North part of Bangladesh that is more vulnerable region for climatic hazard like early flood, prolong flood, drought and chilly. But learning knowledge has brought remarkable breakthrough for marginal village women on farming domestic animals.
  • Initially, Hazear Begum, set out her prolonged journey since 2004 as a self-entrepreneurship with one young lamb, but she is now owner of 20 sheep, and in 2017 the number was 30.  Usually, she used to practice sheep rearing in traditional method before 2016, and had no any trained knowledge and she experienced in difficulty while sheep farming, even did not know what way of rearing sheep is better. Before receiving training on livestock farming, she kept sheep in ground on soil. Because of increasing natural hazard, for instance, heavy downpour, flood, cold wave lead to make unpleasant environment for domestic animal, and given information that in 2006, a total of 11 sheep died because of affecting flood water. But nowadays I do not face such type of problem because of having farming knowledge on livestock through training where we learned benefits of platform (macha) method as well as timely vaccination.     
  • By receiving training on livestock from BRAC through JIBIKA Project, we have learned how to rear such husbandry animal and involved in income generating activities. Besides sheep rearing we have a some of indigenous and china duck, hen, cattle along with animals. I am now playing a great contribution to my family that pushes financial solvency for my family members and able to make significant decision to progress. And my son, Saleh Ahmed, 17, is getting all supports for his study purpose, he studies in intermediate. Beside this we have become to run a grocery shop by investing profit earned from sheep farming.
  • Not having financial capacity, I could not afford those farming elements (lamb, macha materials, feed and medicine). I took microfinance support from VDO by returning less amount profit to VDO fund. Based on experiment, according to Hazera’s statement the sheep rearing is risk free, and investment is not much high, but profit is really praiseworthy. In addition, the investment is not needed continuously. Because female sheep breeds one or two lambs twice in year resulting flock of sheep gradually increase, market demand is not less. Department of Livestock as well as Livestock Health Worker (LHW) trained up by BRAC-Chevron Jibika Project keeps touching all time with them for giving treatment as well as consultancy support to prevent mentioned disease causing harmful for farm and how they can ensure safety habitation.
  • Because of having technical knowledge and getting success in management sheep rearing my identity spread out over the village as well as surrounding area. After seeing my success, some village women who are financially poor have interested to rear sheep according to their ability. Resulting dignity of unprivileged women increases in various levels, thus women are gradually becoming empowered.
  • Writer is development worker.
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