Improved Small-Scale Cattle Rearing for Youth Entrepreneurship
The following is a success story from Farmer-to-Famer implementer Winrock International. Winrock runs programs on youth entrepreneurship as well as agricultural education and training in Bangladesh, in addition to other F2F projects in Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal, Burma and Nepal. This story highlights the impact of cattle rearing trainings by Daniel Miller, who has volunteered for Farmer-to-Famer multiple times, during his December 2015 assignment to Bangladesh.
Despite the potential of small-scale cattle rearing as an entrepreneurship and income generating opportunity for youth (particularly women) in Bangladesh, many youth face a lack of technical knowledge, business acumen, and access to extension and credit support, and are therefore reluctant to engage in this type of activity. Recognizing both the opportunities and the constraints, three small local NGOs—Association for Rural Mission (ARM), Peoples Development Foundation (PDF), and Ashraf Foundation (AF)—requested volunteer technical assistance from the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer Program to increase their staff and youth farmers’ knowledge and skills in improved cattle rearing. In response to this great need, F2F volunteer Dr. Daniel Miller trained 10 NGO staff and 56 youth (59% women) on improved dairy cattle rearing for entrepreneurship development in Khulna and Jessore.
The F2F training built the capacity of the NGOs to be able to provide services to promote improved small-scale cattle rearing as a business among youth in the localities. “Along with many other topics, we have learned about improved cowshed design, proper feeding techniques, the importance of 24-hour access to safe drinking water for animals, hygienic milking, the importance of allowing calves to feed on grass and grain at early age, record keeping, etc., from the F2F training. Now, we are disseminating this useful information to our women youth beneficiaries to develop entrepreneurs in the livestock sector,” notes Ashish Halder, the Executive Director of ARM.
After attending the F2F training, staff disseminated information to 22 other staff and 4,426 farmers, including 3,600 youth (97% women). The NGO staff follow up on the progress of the youth cattle rearing activities at weekly intervals, and they advise the youth on ways to address problems and make improvements. The NGOs also assisted the youth to start growing Napier and Para grass in about one hectare, and they helped the youth to maintain simple financial records to track the cost-benefit of their cattle businesses. The NGOs also disbursed $54,375 in microcredit to 240 female youth to support their budding cattle rearing businesses. This is the first time that the organizations focused financial support in the livestock sector. Atiquzzaman Moni, Executive Director of PDF, stated, “We had no expertise on cattle management. F2F training has helped us a lot to provide technical support to the youth in addition to microcredit to bring change in the existing situation.”
The technical assistance and microcredit support from the NGOs has shown encouraging results to improve the performance of cattle rearing and to increase youths’ interest in this profitable livelihood activity. Out of 56 youth farmers who attended Dr. Miller’s training, 31 farmers are now practicing dairy farming as a business; the rest are planning to start soon. Sixteen of these youth are raising cattle and generating income for the first time. Altogether, the 31 youth have increased their income from $753 to $7,202 in one year. This has encouraged and inspired other youth in the locality.
The young farmers are proud of their accomplishments, as indicated from the testimonials below:
“After F2F training, I improved feeding for my three cows and three calves which helped to increase milk production from 5 to 10 liters per day.” - Ms. Sucharita Thikadar
“F2F training inspired me to start dairy cattle farming newly. I have purchased one dairy cow and one calf. Currently, I get three liters of milk per day, which helps me to earn $2.50 per day. I’m planning to extend my dairy business soon.” - Ms. Mira Poddar
“I was not aware of the importance of improved cowshed, including many other important things to make dairy farming profitable. F2F training helped me to learn these things. Now, I practice and share those with other farmers in our community. They consider me as a Priest of cattle farming. They are following my advice and getting benefit. I feel proud for this.” – Ms. Rahima Khatun