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A 'Goat Bank' scheme introduced as part of income-generating activities in the rural far-western region of the country is ushering new hope for food-insecure families.
DOTI - Fifty-year-old Mandhari Kadayat is a subsistence farmer producing barely enough food for her family of eight. Her two sons are working in India as construction labourers in their bid to help make ends meet.
When Good Neighbors International (GNI), with support from WFP and KOICA, introduced a goat breeding programme for the food-insecure households in Ladagada Village in far-western Nepal, Mandhari was one of the first women who joined the scheme.
"I invested my small savings of Rs.2,500 (approximately US$26) on two goats, which I bought from a farmers' group," said Mandhari, who is expecting to multiply the number of goats she owns in few years time. "I am hopeful that I would be able to earn a good income by rearing and selling the goats in the near future."
The scheme was launched under the "Saemaul Zero Hunger Communities" Project (previously known as "Food-For-New-Village"), implemented in the food-insecure villages of Ladagada and Pokhari in December 2013. A total of 231 goats were distributed to nearly 105 vulnerable households as part of the income-generating activities for the rural communities.
In order to lessen the burden on farmers like Mandhari, the goats, which cost around Rs.5,000 (US$52) each, were distributed upon receipt of a 25 percent down payment of total cost from the participants. The downpayments are saved as part of a security fund for insurance to farmers and is managed by a committee of the farmers' group. The remaining balance is to be paid within a period of two years. GNI encourages farmers to form their own group to take all the responsibility of the management and distribution of goats based on the need and application received from farmers.
Each goat has been tagged and if the goat dies prematurely, the participants get back 60 percent of its cost from the group's security fund. Similarly, mobile veterinary clinics have also been set up in coordination with the District Livestock Office to check the animals' health conditions at regular intervals.
"This scheme is now popularly known as the "Goat Bank" project. We are using a cooperative model that's beneficial to the community," said Chetraj Bhattarai, GNI Programme Manager for the district. "Since the area is suitable to rearing local breeds, the response has been very positive and many women, who otherwise would not have been able to afford a goat, are reaping the benefits of this project with our small support."
"The project is aimed at improving the livelihood of poor farmers, especially women, through improved goat husbandry since people in this area have limited income generating opportunities," he further added.
Back in her house, Mandhari has been working hard to take better care of her goats. She walks for almost two hours to collect fodder to feed them. She was also involved in various infrastructure-building activities such as the construction of a rural road that connects her village to the nearest market and the construction of irrigation ponds under WFP's Cash-For-Work activities.
"I am sure that my hard work will pay off when the goats are ready to be sold. I am thankful to WFP and KOICA for providing me with this opportunity to improve my life," she said.