Animal husbandry serves as a crucial supplementary income source for numerous small and marginal farmers in India, particularly in tribal regions. However, high mortality rates prevail due to inadequate feed and shed management, variable fodder availability, and the absence of formal last-mile veterinary services. Unlike the unpredictable nature of agricultural income, animal husbandry offers a comparatively stable financial stream. Beyond income, livestock contribute significantly to nutrition through milk and serve as a vital savings avenue. Investing surplus funds in land and livestock is a common strategy for farmers. Therefore, livestock mortality not only diminishes income but also compromises nutrition and the risk-bearing capacity of these households.
Given this situation, is there anyone who can help?
Who is a Pashu Sakhi?
The literal translation is “animal friend,” a rural inhabitant trained to manage the routine medical needs of various animals such as cows, buffaloes, bulls, poultry, and goats. While not skilled in surgical interventions, Pashu Sakhis can identify diseases, administer medications and vaccinations, and offer valuable suggestions for remedial or preventive measures.
How Are Pashu Sakhis Changing Last-Mile Coverage In Rural Areas?
Pashu Sakhis are assuming a transformative role in extending last-mile coverage in rural areas, particularly in veterinary services and animal husbandry. Here’s how they are making a difference:
Pashu Sakhis operate at the grassroots level, reaching the most remote and underserved rural areas, which increases accessibility to veterinary care for farmers who might otherwise face challenges in accessing such services.
These animal healthcare workers engage directly with the community. They build trust and understanding among farmers and address cultural and social factors that might influence animal care practices. This community-oriented approach helps in the effective dissemination of information.
Pashu Sakhis serve as a valuable source of knowledge for farmers, educating farmers on best practices in animal husbandry, disease prevention, and management. This knowledge empowers farmers to make informed decisions about their livestock, leading to improved overall animal health.
With their presence at the grassroots, Pashu Sakhis can promptly identify and address health issues in livestock. Timely interventions prevent the spread of diseases, reduce mortality rates, and enhance the overall productivity of the animals.
Pashu Sakhis often leverage technology, including mobile applications or telemedicine, to access veterinary expertise and resources. This technology integration enhances their capabilities, providing more accurate diagnoses and treatment recommendations.
Empowerment of Women
In many cases, Pashu Sakhis are women from the local community, providing them with employment opportunities and contributing to women’s empowerment in rural areas. Women, such as Pashu Sakhis, play a crucial role in their communities’ economic and social development.
By ensuring the health and well-being of livestock, Pashu Sakhis contribute to the economic sustainability of rural communities. Healthy animals are more productive, providing farmers with a steady source of income through dairy, meat, and other related products.
Data Collection and Reporting
Pashu Sakhis gather essential data on livestock health in their communities. This data can be used to monitor disease patterns, plan interventions, and improve animal healthcare systems.
In essence, Pashu Sakhis act as a bridge between traditional agricultural practices and modern veterinary care. Their role is pivotal in creating a sustainable and inclusive ecosystem for animal husbandry in rural areas, ultimately benefiting the livelihoods of farmers and the overall rural economy.
Pashu Sakhis Trained Under A CSR-Supported Project
More than thirty women from Nuh and Mahendergarh districts have embraced self-reliance by becoming Pashu Sakhis. Trained under the CSR-supported project initiated by S M Sehgal Foundation with HDFC Bank’s support in 2022, these women, although not equipped for surgical interventions, adeptly identify common animal diseases, administer medications and vaccinations, and provide remedial or preventive measures. According to Naveen Pratap Singh, the program lead at S M Sehgal Foundation, the Pashu Sakhis in Nuh and Mahendragarh received periodic training on various aspects of animal care; and according to Naresh, livestock assistant, S M Sehgal Foundation, the Pashu Sakhis offer technical guidance to poor households.
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The Top Rural Development NGO In India
Since 1999, S M Sehgal Foundation has been committed to improving the quality of life in rural communities across India. Functioning as a rural development NGO within a public charitable trust framework, meticulously building a team of professionals dedicated to creating sustainable programs. Their core mission is to strengthen community-led development initiatives and create positive transformations in rural India’s social, economic, and environmental landscapes. The ultimate vision of the foundation is to empower every individual in rural India with the tools to lead lives marked by security, prosperity, and dignity.
calls at the Citizen Information and Support Center
community leaders trained
check dams/nala bunds constructed
ponds developed and rejuvenated
schools with rainwater harvesting structures
crop demonstrations improve farm practices
acres covered with drip/sprinkler irrigation
schoolchildren benefited by school transformation
*data as of June 2023