Did you know that this Saturday is open data day? How can you have missed it???
Seriously it’s a good idea. It’s a chance to highlight the need for governments, donors and other institutions to open up their data and make it freely available. This is really important in international development. Sharing data is crucial if we are going to share knowledge and learning.
Open data is not to be confused with Big Data. I’m just on my way back from a conference addressing the question of whether Big Data might be the next revolution for agriculture in Africa. (The short answer is “no”). We heard about a new NASA satellite which can map soil moisture across the globe – and make the data available (That is big, open data). We heard about precision farming, where European and North American farmers use GPS to optimise their fertiliser and pesticide inputs (big data, not necessarily open). And we heard about an initiative to improve cashew markets in Africa, by gathering data on quality and sharing it back to the farmers (open data but not that big!).
Overall there is a sense that growth of big data whilst potentially very exciting, could very easily leave Africa behind and contribute to an expansion of the digital divide, rather than a closing of it. In recent years several African countries have seriously adjusted their national income when it became clear that existing statistics were not robust. Very few countries have anything like adequate agricultural surveys on a regular basis.
So pumping more and more data into the internet is unlikely to make things better, data alone is of little value. What would be much better is some effort put into repurposing data – giving it context, and getting it off the internet, into the right language and the right format, and into the hands of the farmers that need it. That could make a really significant contribution to tackling poverty.
So yes, I’ll be supporting open data day, but I’m looking forwards to days which focus on translating data into wisdom, and making it really worthwhile.
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Practical Action Consulting Southern Africa is carrying out a detailed market systems analysis for the Horticultural Sector in Manicaland Province of Zimbabwe. The analysis will investigate the market blockages and identify opportunities for upgrading the horticultural market systems in Manicaland Province. To facilitate this process Practical Action is using a Participatory Market Systems Development approach to develop the horticultural market systems in Manicaland which creates good conditions for a wide range of key market actors (both public and private) to create solutions and changes that make sense to them and that contribute to making their market systems more inclusive, productive and efficient.
To get an understanding of the issues affecting the horticultural sub-sector, a market mapping and analysis exercise was facilitated in Manicaland Province (Mutare District) from 27 to 30 January 2015. This exercise was instrumental in establishing the potential blockages or bottlenecks, identifying the current market actors in the sub-sector, also getting their views on how they can play a part in addressing the identified blockages available for transforming the horticultural market systems in Manicaland Province.
The interest from various stakeholders included the following; better prices through good relationships amongst all market actors, improved market linkages hence increased incomes, providing smallholder farmers with the required inputs, stakeholder coordination and interactions, market systems transformations, farming practiced as a business, provision of market led agricultural extension services, value added horticultural products and buying commodities from smallholder farmers.
The market mapping and analysis attracted participation from stakeholders which included smallholder farmers from irrigation schemes around Manicaland, Sakubva market vegetable traders, CAIRNS Foods, local agro-dealers (Windmill, Shalom Agro chemicals, Seed Ridge), Standard Association of Zimbabwe, Non-Governmental Organizations representatives (Netherlands Development Organisation, Practical Action, Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe), Micro Finance Institutions (Zambuko Trust) and government representatives (AGRITEX, Mutare Rural District Council and Ministry of Small to Medium Enterprises and Cooperatives Development).1 Comment » | Add your comment
This is a guest blog by Peter Rinker, who works for Geman NGO Movement e.V.
It began with an internship during my studies with the German NGO Movement e.V. in April 2009. Together with the young Burkinabés Faical and Hamed Ouédraogo I started to test the potential of clay pot coolers in Burkina Faso. Up until then, we had just heard some stories about the successful dissemination of pot-in-pot refrigerators in Northern Nigeria by Mohammed Bah Abba. Even our first tests with quite improvised clay pot cooler prototypes showed that there is a really big cooling potential, thanks to the hot and dry air in Ouahigouya in Northern Burkina Faso. So it became our main goal to work on the dissemination of clay pot coolers in Burkina Faso. During the following months, we researched for adequate designs and collaborated with female pottery makers to produce the desired clay pots. In the final phase of the three month internship we made efforts to spread the popularity of the clay pot cooler among the local population through presentations with women groups, a lottery at a vegetable market and the creation of flyers and construction manuals.
In 2012, Lisa Buehrer studied and evaluated the impact of our efforts of 2009. She discovered that some people who got a clay pot cooler for free in 2009 were still using it. Others used it till it broke due to playing kids or fallen tree branches. But in general people were very satisfied with the cooling function, the prolonged life of fruit and vegetables and the flexibility they gained, due to the possibility to cool and store their food. Regarding the target group, Lisa Buehrer discovered that all users can benefit from using clay pot coolers. The highest potential benefit however, was for women selling vegetables in the city of Ouahigouya (the results would probably be different in a rural area, where self-sufficient farmers profited highly from the technique, as the example of Abba in Nigeria showed. But due to the very limited resources of Movement e.V., the zone of direct intervention is focused on the city of Ouahigouya and the surrounding villages). The female vegetable sellers normally buy vegetables at a village or a big market in the city and sell the produce again for a slightly higher price in front of their houses in the different parts of the cities. The prolonged lifetime of produce stored in the clay pot cooler made them profit from multiple effects. The method of storage means their goods are of a better quality for longer, which limits the degree to which they have to sell their goods for a diminished price. Thus, they have more flexibility in buying and selling the goods, which enables them to follow other activities, while securing their income through less food losses. Besides the elaboration of the target group Lisa Buehrer continued also the promotional work at local markets and headquarters of NGOs to increase the level of awareness of clay pot coolers.
All the work of Movement e.V. so far showed that the clay pot cooler works very well in the hot and dry conditions of Burkina Faso and that there are millions of people who could potentially benefit from it. The problem we identified after these two three month internships (which is very short and on a very low financial level in comparison to other development projects) was, that there was nearly no independent dissemination of clay pot coolers after our departure. Obviously there were different causes, which had prevented such an independent development. During my studies of sustainable development, I came across the concept of social entrepreneurship, namely understood to be made up of business-driven solutions for social or ecological problems. This concept seemed to be highly promising because it comes with several positive aspects. Firstly, the incentive for local people contributing to the project in a poor country like Burkina Faso would be higher if they can increase their small and irregular income. Secondly, a self-sustaining business model would be the best condition for a project that can become independent from external support in the long run. Thirdly, if this social business model works in Ouahigouya, there would be potential for replication in other regions and contexts, which would serve our overarching goal of bringing clay pot coolers to millions of beneficiaries around the world.
As I was still very convinced of the major benefit of clay pot coolers and the promising model of a social business in mind, I decided to work for Movement e.V. a second time as a voluntary project manager after finishing my studies. Implementing and testing the idea of a social business model for the clay pot cooler in Burkina Faso became the mission of this project stay. We worked a lot on the production side. Around twenty people were trained in producing the customised pots for clay pot coolers. While we thought in the beginning, that it would be an option to produce clay pots in the city, we had to dismiss this option after our first clay pot cooler workshop. It became clear that pottery, given the very hard work it is, is generally not profitable enough to be attractive for people of a bigger city like Ouahigouya. Pottery seems to be one of the worst paid metiers in Burkina Faso. It is a dry season activity of woman in rural areas, who start it after the big harvest at the beginning of the dry season.
Therefore, we decided to leave the production to groups of female potters of the surrounding villages. This comes with more efforts for logistics but has positive side-effects on the situation of these women and their families.
In the city of Ouahigouya we formed a team of four young and intelligent guys, aged between 20 and 30, who had no formal jobs. They earn a bit here and there and support their families with their income. The clay pot cooler project gives them the opportunity to be trained in the various skills needed to be a self-employed entrepreneur. Selling clay pot coolers is not their main job but it adds something to their revenues. Another aspect is the positive reputation in the local community due to their engagement in the clay pot cooler initiative.
We elaborated quite a flexible social business model. Every team member is paid according to the amount of time and work he contributed to selling the clay pot coolers. This makes allowance for unforeseen circumstances in the availability to work on the project. The team orders clay pots for the clay pot cooler from the women groups in the villages. After the delivery of the clay pots to the city there is still some work to do. The outer clay pots receive a logo and phone number, to increase the popularity and the French name of the clay pot cooler: ‘Canari Frigo’. Additionally, they have to apply a layer of cement to the small clay pot and sieve sand (all details on the construction and use of the clay pot coolers can be found in this technical brief: see link at the bottom). Following these steps, the clay pot and the sand can be brought to customers and be installed directly around their houses. It is important that the installation comes with brief and clear explanations about how to use the clay pot cooler. You can have the best technology but you will only enjoy the full potential benefit, if you are using it in the right way. This is one reason, why we still prefer to do the installation ourselves at the customer’s homes and not to sell the customised clay pots at the market. However, selling on markets could work well in the future, when clay pot coolers are more established and everybody knows how to use them.
This social business model is still an experiment, but we think it goes in the right direction.
The main challenge at the moment is to drum up enough demand for clay pot coolers. While the demand was quite good during my last project stay it slowed down afterwards. The reason is probably that we were present at many events and occasions during my stay, as it was my main job to work full-time on this clay pot cooler project. The calculation of the price of a clay pot cooler was made very tightly and did not include a share for promotional work to keep a payable price for a big share of the population. We obviously underestimated the need for additional marketing, promotion or subsidies for such a new product. That is why we sent Joris Depouillon from Belgium to Burkina Faso in April 2014, to regroup the local team and elaborate a strategy and measures with them to increase the demand for the clay pot coolers.
In autumn 2014, Michael Bührer, the founder and president of Movement e.V., is in Burkina Faso to work on various projects conducted by Movement e.V., as well as on capacity building for the newly founded local partner NGO, Movement BF. Regarding the clay pot cooler project, it became clear that this social business-based approach still needs support; financial support for subsidising the sold clay pots and institutional partners to strengthen the promotional work. Several measures can contribute to a higher popularity of clay pot coolers. When more and more people get to know this innovative technology and its benefits a turning point can be reached, where clay pot coolers become a standard product on markets and promotional work can be reduced almost entirely.
Besides all the efforts to disseminate clay pot coolers in Burkina Faso, we try to spread our detailed knowledge on clay pot coolers through the publication of multilingual construction manuals via different channels like Wikipedia, social media and various networks. We are willing to share our knowledge and experience with all interested persons or organisations to inspire them to build or spread the use of clay pot coolers and prevent that everyone has to reinvent the wheel themselves.
Please let us know when you are starting some kind of clay pot cooler project. This allows us to get an idea about the impact of our efforts for know-how transfer.3 Comments » | Add your comment
I had the good fortune to study ancient history – a subject that fascinates me. However, my studies only covered classical civilisations so my knowledge of the Incas is minimal. So when I was in Peru in December and visited some Inca sites, I was enthralled and keen to learn more. I’m delighted that the BBC has just begun a new series ‘Masters of the Clouds’ which will enable me to do this and especially to consider how technologies of the past can help to deal with modern problems such as climate change and disaster resilience.
From the first episode it became clear that the Incas knew a thing or two about climate smart agriculture. They developed complex water harvesting and terracing systems which enabled them to produce enough food to store surpluses in their vast granaries against hard times. As a result of having a secure food supply the population increased and the Inca empire was able to expand to cover nearly 690,000 square miles – from modern Colombia to Chile. Practical Action is using similar techniques in the high Andes to support farmers who face low rainfall today as a result of climate change.
Earthquakes are a regular hazard in this region is earthquakes and the Incas developed building techniques to minimise the effects. Leaning their walls slighting inward, excellent masonry skills and rounded corners have ensured that Macchu Picchu’s stone walls still stand despite 500 years of shaking.
Once again Practical Action looked to the past when helping with the reconstruction efforts after major earthquake, using traditional quincha techniques for greater stability.
Technology also proved to be their downfall. Inca soldiers armed with spears and bow and arrows were up against the Spanish forces equipped with horses, cannon and firearms. Smallpox and measles also brought by the invaders devastated the population and the Inca Empire folded. I’m looking forward to finding out more this week.
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We were at a height of 4,200m with no trees in the horizon, only patches of grass. At this height in Nepal, you will see lots of pine trees in the surrounding as the treeline in Khumbu, Himalayas in Nepal is at 4,200m but it is at 3,900m in Andes, Peru.
The view of the Andes above the treeline is enchanting and the sight of alpacas grazing on chillihua grass on the mountain slopes is soul-stirring. However, apart from the amazing alpacas, the most interesting thing for me in the trip to the Alpacas Melgar project in Peru was a reservoir constructed by the project to harvest rainwater and collect water from natural sources.
Comparing the 6m long and 4m wide reservoir having holding capacity of 36,000 litres of water with the conservation ponds in Nepal, I found small but significant improvements that can be applied to our ponds in Nepal.
In Nepal, conservation ponds are not new. Most of the villages in the plains have ponds, mostly rain-fed. The ponds, big in size, are used for fish farming, irrigation, water for cattle, washing and bathing. In the mid-hills too, people had used the ponds, though small in size, to store water for dry period. However, due to introduction of piped water supply, the practice of digging conservation ponds was discontinued.
With the help of government bodies and non-governmental organisations, the practice of having conservation ponds has been revived.
The ponds, about 3m long, 2m wide and 1.5m deep, are dug out and the walls are lined with high density polyethylene sheet or silpaulin (multi-layered, cross laminated, UV stabilised) heavy duty plastic sheeting. They generally have holding capacity of 8,000-10,000 litres of water. The ponds are constructed in shady area to minimise losses from evaporation and the plastic lining prevents water seepage.
Coming back to the reservoir at the Alpacas Melgar project site, it is located at a place higher than the pastureland. As the area is above the treeline, there is no chance of finding a place with shade to dig a pond. However, to save the plastic lining from being damaged by the sun’s rays, a layer of dry chillihua grass is stacked on the borders throughout the perimeter of the reservoir. A simple application but an innovative one!
Likewise, the canal bringing in water to the reservoir is connected to a filter – a square block with simple arrangement of inlet and outlets for water and effluent at different heights. The effluent outlet is at the lowest end and plugged in by a pipe that can be taken out to discharge the mud, dirt and other wastes gathered in the filter from the inlet. Modesto, one of the kamayoqs (locally trained farmers in the Peruvian Andes) trained by Practical Action, displayed the technique, lifting the pipe. There’s not much technical improvement but the intervention is impressive.
The outlet of the reservoir is connected to a distribution point. It is a block of inlet and outlet pipes. The use of check valve and detachable pipes makes the whole arrangement worth replicating. The point, located at a lower height, has an inlet coming from the reservoir with a check valve which controls the flow of water downstream. As and when the detachable pipe is inserted in the point, the valve opens up and water starts flowing through the pipe connected to two sprinklers. The pipes and sprinklers are detachable. They are removed and stored in a safe place during the rainy season to avoid the wear and tear.
The rainy season starts from November and lasts till March every year. However, it hadn’t rained this year although it was already mid-December. So the pipes were still in place and the water level in the reservoir was depleting rapidly.
In spite of no rains this year, we could clearly see the changes in the landscape brought by the reservoir and the irrigation scheme. The irrigated land is green. With the project’s support new varieties of grass like alfalfa and clover have been introduced. The baby alpacas like these soft varieties of grass. Because of the irrigation scheme, Modesto is planning to grow potatoes and quinoa in his land along with raising healthier alpacas.
According to Project Manager Duverly, the project has supported to dig 61 reservoirs in the area. Each reservoir is owned by a family and they are responsible for managing the reservoir and changing the plastic lining every five years. Seeing the benefits of the reservoir, the mayor of the district is planning to support more families in other parts of the district to build and manage such improved ponds.
The small but innovative improvements in the reservoir management at the Alpacas Melgar project are worth replicating. A large population in the mid-hills of Nepal will benefit if some of the improvements are adapted in the conservation ponds.
The Alpacas Melgar project is being implemented by Practical Action in Nuñoa, Macari, Santa Rosa and Ayaviri districts in Melgar Province of Puno, Peru. Eighty kamayoqs and 800 highland families in the province are benefitting from the project on the efficient management of integrated activities related to raising alpacas.No Comments » | Add your comment
Resident of Chitwan District of Nepal, 51 year old Ramlal Chaudary’s family has been dependent on agriculture for generations. But in the recent times, it was getting difficult to sustain his family of nine through agriculture alone. Recently, he had started driving tractor as a side business. But agriculture – is a part of his culture; paddy being the major harvest.
This year too, Ramlal cultivated paddy like every other year. But this year, his field was greener and healthier than that of his neighbours. Even the other farmers observed his field curiously. Though most people assumed that he must have worked too hard to get this result, he actually had neither weeded nor used any pesticides or chemical fertilisers in his field.
Ramlal shares happily, “The pests that were not controlled by strong pesticides are non-existent in my field now, even though I haven’t used any pesticide. Others weeded their fields numerous times and also used chemical fertilisers, but without doing any of that, the paddy in my field has flourished quite extraordinarily.”
So what is the reason behind this drastic change in Ramlal’s paddy? What has he changed in his farming practice to get these great results?
The answer actually is very simple.
Ramlal has started raising ducks along with the rice in his field.
He explains, “I decided to raise ducks in my rice field after attending an orientation programme about rice-duck farming organised by Practical Action. The organisation provided us with proper training to carry out this farming technique and also supported us with a day old ducklings. After the training, we formed a group and started rice-duck farming.”
Rice-duck farming technology was found to be beneficial in terms of providing social, economic and environmental benefits in a pilot research carried out by Practical Action in 2013. Currently, Practical Action Consulting Pvt. Ltd. is implementing integrated rice-duck farming project in Chitwan and Nawalparasi districts with the financial support of Grand Challenges Canada. The project is working to build the capacity of 1000 small holder farmers to adopt the rice-duck farming technology – Ramlal is one among them.
Ramlal says, “I didn’t have any idea about the practice of rice-duck farming. But now, I am experiencing many benefits. The droplets of the ducks acts as manure so there is no need to use chemical fertilisers. The ducks gets the nutrition by feeding upon the pests and weeds. I feel that the ducks are a boon for the rice field.”
Ramlal is the treasurer of the ‘Quality rice-duck farming’ group. There are altogether 15 members in this group – all practice rice-duck farming. The members of the group made a collective decision to practice rice-duck farming in their individual fields. They conduct monthly meetings where they share their agricultural progress and problems, most of which they solve with combined effort. Each member contributes NPR 50 (£0.32) for saving on a monthly basis. The amount is used among the members for agricultural inputs whenever required.
The rice-duck farming technology has made an impact in Ramlal’s life in the first year of the practice itself. The yield in his field has increased. Previously, 0.03 hectares of field yielded hardly two quintals; this year it yielded 2.66 quintals of rice.
He further adds, “I made rupees 52,700 (£337.82) more from the rice alone in comparison to last year. And the best part is that, the ducks become ready to be sold at the same time as rice harvesting. Among the total of 18 ducks I raised, we have kept few to be used at home and sold others at the price of rupees 800 (£5.12) each. This has made a significant impact on my income. People from neighbouring localities and villages also take interest when they see the ducks in the rice field. I try my best to share the knowledge with the ones who are unaware about it.”
(The information for this story was collected by Tej Mani Panth, Practical Action)1 Comment » | Add your comment
Our day started at 6am and we headed towards Badamanjari (a project field site) over 60km from the district headquarter Koraput. We took about 3 hours to travel through good roads, bad roads, rough and rocky roads in the hilly terrains and passing by the highest peak of Eastern Ghats (Deomali). There was intermittent mobile coverage on our way and we could see very less vehicles usually over-packed with people. All of us traveling had a WOW feeling inside, that Practical Action is working in such interior pockets and delivering technology solutions and services to the poor where the poor benefit to the fullest. The closer we go to the village the more excited we were and a sense of belonging was mounting in our minds and hearts which outburst during the overwhelming welcome and response of the villagers.
Badamanjari is one of the project sites of the Sustainable Micro-hydro through Energizing Rural Enterprises and Livelihood (SMRE) Project in Koraput district of Odisha. The village inhabits 93 households and is surrounded by nature and its greatest gifts, one of which is in the shape of a perennial water source which is used by the villagers for a Micro Hydro Project with a capacity of producing 30 KW of electricity. This project was supported by various donors and implemented by a well-known NGO from the district. The Project was initiated in 2003 and was commissioned to the people in 2006. The people got uninterrupted electricity up to the year 2013 and somehow there was problem with the machine and it did not work from then. The SMRE Project initiated by Practical Action in partnership with Koraput Farmer’s Association (KFA) aims to rehabilitate and renovate the Micro Hydro Project to function to its fullest potential and help people increase their income with the use of the PMSD approach.
Suresh Tadingi (23) lives with his wife, daughter (2 years), brother, mother and grandmother in Badamanjari village. His ancestral property of over 6 Acres of agricultural land is being used by four families with a total of 21 members. He is busy in the agriculture and allied works throughout the year except January and February (during these months he goes to nearby town to work on contract). Even though they do farming of Zinger, Beans, Vegetables, Raggi, Millets (varieties) and Paddy, they live in a subsistence economy and it is not enough for everyone. It is the SMRE Project which has brought a light of hope for him, his family and the community at large.
Suresh along with four other youth members are interested to take up Turmeric Processing Unit as one of their income generating endeavors through the SMRE Project. They will be responsible to collect raw turmeric from 9 nearby villages, process, package and market the products to gain profits. These five young men will get the agreed share of the earning and will share part of their earnings to the community fund from where it will then be used for benefits of the community and its members. If everything works well, then Suresh and others like him need not go outside of the village to work as daily wage laborers, but in the contrary they will get a dignified earning through the business of their own and multiply their income as per their efforts to live a better life in their own village itself.7 Comments » | Add your comment
Farmers are not renowned for their optimism. Grumbling about the weather, crop or livestock prices is a recurrent theme. So it was refreshing yesterday to meet Modesto Hunan, an alpaca farmer from the Puna region of Peru, who has so many positive things to say about his work. Modesto trained as a kamayoq – a local agricultural extension worker and for the last three years has been part of the Melgar Alpacas project which is helping farmers in the high plains of the Andes to improve their livelihoods. The work is addressing three main areas -pasture enrichment, better animal breeding and improved marketing of their main product, alpaca wool.
Modesto lives with his wife Doris and three sons in a remote area about 3 hours drive from Puno. His farm is a breathtaking 4,200 m above sea level and covers 116 hectares. Two of his sons are studying at university in Puno and return at weekends to help on the farm. He owns just over 200 alpacas – half of the more expensive Suri breed and the rest the more common Huacaya. The project has helped to strengthen the herd by providing a number of high quality male alpacas for breeding.
To provide better pasture for his animals, Modesto has installed an irrigation system fed from a small rain fed reservoir. This enables him to cultivate small areas of land with improved grazing for animals at key stages of their life – those in their first year as well as pregnant females and nursing mothers. This has led to better survival rates, better quality wool and healthier animals. He also cultivates grasses with higher nutritional content such as clover and alfalfa which would not grow here without irrigation. He is also planning to grow potatoes and quinoa for the family.
Before the project Modesto earned around 6 soles (£1.50) per pound for his wool, but as a result of the improved quality of his product he now gets 10 soles (£2.50) per pound and sometimes twice that for good Suri wool. The community currently sell their wool in the local market, where the price is lower but the project is working to create a co-operative to sell the wool together to a bigger enterprise to obtain a better price.
But despite their current success there is a blot on the horizon which threatens all this family’s hard work – climate change.
The rainy season in this area usually lasts from November to March (summer) and it is not usually necessary to irrigate at this time. But Modesto’s reservoir was barely a third full as there had been so little rain this year so far (in early December). He is extremely concerned about the effect of climate change on his livelihood and told me;
“As well as the lack of rain, the winters have become much colder with snow and hail and dramatic thunderstorms. Only last week 3 people in the region were killed by lightening.”
He recorded a message (in Spanish) for the UN COP20 meeting in Lima describing the problems he is facing to urge the international community to take action.
Let’s hope that they listen otherwise the way of life of Modesto and the other alpaca farmers in this challenging environment may no longer be viable.No Comments » | Add your comment
The Gyan Bikas community library, in Panauti – Nepal is a remarkable achievement. It is built entirely with the financial support of the people of Nepal. There were no corporate donations and no government funding – but people across Nepal each gave as much as they could afford. Children from across the country were encouraged to collect 1 rupee at a time in their piggy banks.
And now it is built and it could well soon become the only library in a world heritage site – if the local town’s application is approved.
The library is supported by our wonderful partners – READ Nepal, and now, in addition to a children’s library, a music room, a meeting room and an audio visual room, it also has a Practical Answers room.
The new Practical Answers service is already proving popular with more than 1500 enquiries in its first 3 months of operation. They mainly focus on insect control in crops, potato farming. The team there also organise outreach “interactions” out at local community gatherings., The most successful one so far has been about how to make your own fertiliser and pesticide.
People pay 25 rupees (about 15p) to be a member of the library, and up to 100 a day use the library. Overall there are 30,000 people in the community.
In anticipation of gaining world heritage status the old library has been turned into a souvenir shop – selling handmade crafts to tourists. The profits pay the running costs of the library. This is one of the most recent libraries to join the Practical Answers programme – but I get the sense that it will soon be one of the most successful.1 Comment » | Add your comment
My recent visit to Manapalli (a small village in Odisha) brought about a story of traditional business families and their knowledge requirements.
It is not always necessary that, if a person is engaged in some business traditionally for years, she/he might be proficient in the business or its trends. I found that these people are doing traditional business because it was their family forte or is a social status or an identity. Whether they lose or win they continue with the same sector of business (may be in small-scale), they normally don’t change like other communities living by doing business. The attitude that they have with these business sectors is that it was their ancestors who used to do this and that they HAVE TO DO, no matter how well they do it. One such case is about A Mangulu Patra and his Golla community.
Manapalli is a village in the Practical Answers Project area in Khallikote Block of Ganjam District. Golla Community is the primary inhabitants of this village and they have their original inheritance from some part of Andhra Pradesh in India. The Golla community or caste is a cattle-rearing caste in Andhra Pradesh in India, are predominantly sheep, goat and cattle herders. The village has 397 households with population of over 1600. Almost every household does goat rearing as their primary or secondary income source.
A Mangulu Patra is one among the others who do goat rearing for a living. Mangulu lives with his mother, grandfather, wife and two kids. He has about one acre of non-irrigated agriculture land from where he earns roughly about 16 bags (100 Killo a bag) of paddy a year after putting enormous efforts. The rice is tightly enough for his dependents to survive throughout the year. He depends on the income of the goat rearing business for all other expenses starting from health, festivals, food items etc. He owns about 120 Goats at present. He is able to sell about 30 heads every year cost ranges from INR 4500 to 5000. He has appointed one person to take care of the goats and pays about INR 35,000/- per annum + one meal a day. Like many others Mangulu has been rearing these goats and getting whatever profit from this since years. He has never calculated minutely about his profits and losses. However, the problem with the traditional business people is that, they just accept the loss very easily. One such case he explains us is about the diarrhea among the goats which normally comes with other diseases too, “such diseases happen each year to these goats, we try our best to treat them, if they are not cured, we sell them or we are at loss if they die” he said.
When there was a diarrhea in goats last month, he requested the govt. vet service provider, after giving the medicine, it did not work. The Knowledge Facilitator under Practical Answers came to know about it, he then connected an expert to get the solutions. Mangulu did exactly as directed by the expert and few days later his goats were treated well. Now, he is happy and assured from Practical Answers to get any sort of information and knowledge support that he needs.
There are others in his village that are having questions on goat rearing even though they have been doing goat rearing for years. It is planned to have an expert session on ‘Goat Rearing, its issues, problems and solutions’ in this village which would help other people like Mangulu to get their questions answered.
Practical Answers program has been initiated from July 2014 to extend knowledge services to 1000 households in 10 villages under Khallikote Block of Ganjam District in Odisha.1 Comment » | Add your comment