Nurturing lives, building futures

A community livestock manager trained by Reliance Foundation helped Gudajada Nagalakshmi avert heavy financial loss by providing timely and effective treatment for her goat at her doorstep in East Godavari, AP

Nurturing lives, building futures

Gudajada Nagalakshmi, her husband and two children lived in a thatched hut in Routhulapudi, a village in the East Godavari district. Not owning any land, they relied on farm labour as their primary source of income. Nagalakshmi even ran a small tailoring shop, but the family still struggled to make ends meet. Looking for ways to further expand her income, Nagalakshmi had diversified into goat farming, a livelihood choice for many families in the region.

While goat rearing is a popular source of income for landless rural families, it is by no means a risk-free business. Profits aren’t guaranteed, and losses can be heavy, with high incidence of disease. Sometimes, entire herds are wiped out by illnesses. Many families in the region have failed to make profits or even recover their investments, with herd sizes not seeing any growth even over two breeding cycles. If the goats survive seasonal diseases and multiply, the goat kids are reared and subsequently sold for a profit.

Nagalakshmi had two adult goats, and four goat kids. Having lost some of her goats in the past, Nagalakshmi was apprehensive about her herd’s growth and health. The nearest private veterinary centre was 20 kilometres away and had never been an option for Nagalakshmi, who couldn’t afford to forego a day’s labour to get her animals treated at the facility.

Nagalakshmi was aware of the work done in the region by Reliance Foundation (RF), to arrest the high goat mortality rates and provide doorstep delivery of healthcare services for the animals. When one of her goats fell ill, she decided to enlist their support. The Foundation team deployed one of its trusted Community Livestock Managers (CLMs) to help Nagalakshmi’s ailing goat. CLMs are young, educated village residents who are identified by the Foundation and trained on the technical aspects of goat rearing. They are also equipped to provide medical care for sheep and goats.

A day after Nagalakshmi approached the Foundation, a CLM paid a visit to her home, examined the goat, and provided medicines. The treatment worked wonders; Nagalakshmi says, “The goat recovered in no time! What surprised me the most was that the whole treatment process, including the medicines, cost us only Rs 100. Thanks to the treatment, I was able to sell the goat for Rs 8,000.”

Today, Nagalakshmi is an active member of her local Goat Rearers Group (GRG). GRGs are groups of goat rearers formed with RF support, which help pool, manage and deliver resources and services related to goat management. Once formed, these groups work hand in hand with a local cadre of trained grassroots-level livestock managers – CLMs and Pashu Sakhis – to improve their goat management skills. RF also organises animal health camps for GRGs, to give members easy access to support and services such as vaccination and de-worming.

With the GRG acting as an invaluable support system, Nagalakshmi saw her goat kids grow without fearing incidence of diseases. The two adult goats even gave birth to four new kids! Nagalakshmi’s growing herd proved to be useful as a liquid assets – she sold three male goat kids for Rs 2,500 each, to help tide her family over financial difficulty. She is now rearing the fourth female kid, which is more than four months-old. Nagalakshmi says, “Earlier, we were not sure how many goats would survive, and where we would go when any of our goats fell sick. It seems that God has sent RF to us, to help solve these problems. I no longer have to worry about not owning any land – I am confident about my choice of goat-rearing as a livelihood.”