Agali, Kerala, Feb 20, 2017: In the Attapadi region of the Western Ghats, the tribals own lean black goats, known for their sturdiness.
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While the other goats suffer diseases, these black goats are resistant to most of these diseases. Also, researchers say that they have a unique ability and power to prosper in the severely increasing heat of South India.
According to T. Giggin, a professor at Kerala Agricultural University, “Black goats can withstand even scorching heat without much care and attention.”
The region’s livestock dealers have crept into the foothills in the recent years, buying the goat at low prices from tribal families that are suffering and selling them on at livestock markets at much higher prices.
However, the tribal communities have now come together to keep more income at home and cut out the middleman. This has been achieved by creating just one “goat village” where the tribal people from all the regions sell their goats at a fixed price to the visitors and buyers.
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A number of tribal families, who are being forced to sell their livestock due to drying up of many rivers across the region. Under such conditions, this change has helped them and there is no longer a need to migrate to Tamil Nadu and other places for work.
In the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s report on The Goat Village, One of the tribals quoted, “our indigenous black goat is my weapon for this coming summer.”
‘We were able to purchase goats from the drought-hit families for 1000 rupees and then resell it for higher prices. Though almost all other breeds had died, the demand for the black goat continued to be huge’, said a livestock trader.
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However, the traders are now unable to buy many goats because of the new step taken by the villagers. The people now brought their animals together at Agali and sold it for a minimum of 280 rupees a kilo (5000 rupees for a typical animal).
Sundhari, a tribal woman said, “I sold my 20-kilo goat for 5600 rupees and the money was immediately credited to my bank account. Now I am sorry that last year, I sold three goats bigger than this for 1000 rupees each.”
The creation of a women’s self-help groups coalition, the goat selling cooperative is presently assisted by National Livestock Mission and serves 192 villages.
Seema Bhaskar, the coordinator of the project said, “Now no middlemen can loot the tribes. People can sell Attapadi goats only through the goat village and buyers can purchase them only through us.”
“Every day we are getting inquiries from farmers across the state. They want the genuine breed,” Bhaskar said.
The demand for the goats has not gone down even with an increase in the prices. 28 goats have already been sold in a week in January. Centralization of sales has also helped in the buying and selling of other animals except Attapadi goats.
As the temperatures continue to rise, the Attapadi breeders are aware that they may soon face competition as some of their buyers might start breeding the tough animal themselves.
The women still intend to expand the cooperative looking for other products to sell. While Traditional medicines are being offered by one women’s group from Pudur, another group from Sholayur is selling Organic food.
– prepared by Nikita Saraf of NewsGram, Twitter: @niki_saraf