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How villagers in rural Kutch are saving up for a dry day
06 January 2007

Come summer and fodder woes won’t flood Kutchi villagers! Reason: The district has its community fodder banks in place. No doubt, Muljibhai Bhanshali, the newly-elected sarpanch of Moti Sudaddhro village of Abdasa taluka in Kutch is a relieved man today. Being an arid zone, drought is a perennial problem for Kutchi villagers who face major shortage of fodder during these times. And to save their cattle, they either migrate to other places with their cattle or leave them in the local pounds.

  To address the problem, Kutch Nav Nirman Abhiyan (KNNA), a network of 30 NGOs and Sahjeevan, a Bhuj-based NGO, have set up community fodder banks in 22 villages across four talukas of Nakhatrana, Abdasa, Rapar and Mundra. During the period of 2003-04 and 2005-06, 4,797 cattle benefited from these fodder banks, said Ramesh K Bhatti from Sahjeevan. According to Mansi Anand, coordinator (KNNA), the system is based on the traditional knowledge and practices of the community.

The concept is to store surplus fodder in a common fodder bank, which the villagers can avail during times of drought as per mutually agreed terms. Initially, the cattle committee of the selected village is given a certain amount of money to create a revolving fund for procuring fodder from the village and nearby areas to create the bank. The sum is determined on the basis of the number of cattle and total fodder requirement for a period of four months— which is the usual duration of a drought.

Talking to Newsline, Sarpanch Muljibhai Bhanushali, in Moti Sudaddhro Panchayat office, said that in his village, the fodder bank committee procures the surplus fodder from the farmers during monsoon at the market rate and stores them in the village fodder bank. “The villagers are also required to become members of the bank against a nominal fee and are asked to register their cattle in the bank,” said Bhanushali.

“During drought, the members can access the bank for fodder at a subsidised rate,” he added. However, he pointed out that that the bank committee— which also has couple of panchayat members overseeing its functioning— has fixed a quota of fodder for each animal. “This becomes necessary to ensure that nobody procures extra fodder and sells it off in the open market,” he added.

“The viability of fodder bank is based on the fact that the year we have a good monsoon, the price of fodder is half to one-third the cost of fodder during times of drought,” said Anand, adding that while the normal cost of fodder is around Rs 40 to Rs 60 per 40 kg, it rises to anything between Rs 120 to Rs 160 during the period of scarcity. “We had started with two banks of 92,000 kg and 80,000 kg of fodder in 2003, which got exhausted during 2004-05,” said Muljibhai. “Now with good monsoon this year, we will set up our bank once again with the same capacity. The process of procuring fodder has already begun,” he added.

“Being in Kutch, we can’t escape from drought, but with this bank in place, at least our cattle can have decent food even in times of scarcity,” he added.

Courtesy - Ahmedabad Newsline - Ahmedabad,India kutchhis globally , from Mumbai

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