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The Lifeline of Livestock : Meet the Pashu Sakhis

One of the persistent challenges faced by livestock farmers in rural India is the high mortality and morbidity of animals. This issue leads to significant economic, social, and mental stress, making rural households highly vulnerable. Small livestock serves as a source of income, as assets that can be encashed in times of emergency, as a source of nutrition, as collateral, or as gifts during ceremonies.

To address this root cause, a unique group of women, known as Pashu Sakhis, has emerged. 

These "friends of animals" play a crucial role in providing essential veterinary services and livestock care, thereby improving the health and productivity of livestock and supporting the livelihoods of countless families.

Who are Pashu Sakhis?

The importance of Pashu Sakhis cannot be overstated—they are the bridge between modern veterinary care and traditional rearing practices, ensuring the health and productivity of livestock which, in turn, supports the livelihoods of countless families.

What are the roles of Pashu Sakhis?

Livestock Care

Pashu Sakhis are trained in basic animal husbandry practices. They ensure that livestock receive proper nutrition, hygiene, and shelter. Their knowledge extends to the management of feeding schedules, the provision of clean water, and the maintenance of healthy living conditions for animals.

Veterinary Support

While they are not professional veterinarians, Pashu Sakhis are equipped with essential skills to handle common veterinary issues. They administer vaccinations, treat minor injuries and illnesses, and assist in birthing processes. In cases requiring more advanced care, they act as intermediaries, connecting farmers with veterinary professionals.

Community Education

An essential part of a Pashu Sakhis's role is to educate their communities. They conduct training sessions and workshops to raise awareness about best practices in livestock management, disease prevention, and the economic benefits of healthy animals. Through their efforts, they empower rural women by sharing knowledge that can lead to improved income and food security.

Eligibility Criteria for Pashu Sakhis

  1. Residency: A Pashu Sakhis must be a native and residing in the same Gram Panchayat (GP), and a member of a women's Self-Help Group (SHG).

  2. Age: Must be between 20-45 years old.

  3. Livestock Ownership: Should rear small ruminants and poultry, with at least:

  • 1-2 cattle and/or

  • 2-3 sheep/goats and/or

  • 2-3 pigs and/or

  • Ten poultry birds. Must have basic knowledge of animal husbandry.

  1. Education: Each Pashu Sakhi must have functional literacy in the local language, with a minimum education of 8th grade.

  2. Livestock Housing: Should maintain a good and hygienic livestock housing system.

  3. Health Identification: Pashu Sakhis should be able to differentiate between healthy and sick livestock. Should have knowledge of heat diagnosis in ruminants. Knowledge of animal first aid is preferred.

Impact of Pashu Sakhis on the community

Economic Benefits

The work of Pashu Sakhis has a direct positive impact on the rural economy. Healthy livestock are more productive, leading to higher milk yields, better quality meat, and increased income from the sale of animals and animal products. This economic upliftment helps in alleviating poverty and enhancing the overall quality of life in rural areas. A Pashu Sakhis also ensures that treatment is available locally thus saves time and money for the people.

Community Health

By ensuring that animals are healthy and free from disease, Pashu Sakhis contribute to the overall health of the community. They help prevent zoonotic diseases (those that can be transmitted from animals to humans), ensuring a safer environment for all. Their role is crucial in areas where access to professional veterinary services is limited.

Challenges faced by Pashu Sakhis

Limited Resources

Despite their critical role, Pashu Sakhis often work with limited resources. Access to veterinary medicines, tools, and proper training can be scarce, hindering their ability to provide comprehensive care.

Social Barriers

As women in traditionally male-dominated rural settings, Pashu Sakhis may face social resistance. Gender biases can limit their mobility and acceptance in some communities, making it challenging to perform their duties effectively.

Financial Constraints

The financial sustainability of Pashu Sakhis' work is another significant challenge. Many operate on a voluntary basis or with minimal financial support, which can be a barrier to their effectiveness and longevity.

Rang De Intervention

Rang De Social Investors have invested a staggering ₹13.5 crores towards animal husbandry loans across India. The loans have enabled several thousand womens to take up goat rearing and even transition into becoming Pashu Sakhiss through the support of Rang De Impact Partners Like - The Goat Trust, Manjari Foundation etc.

Here’s Rajkumari from Muzaffarpur, Bihar who shares an account of her experience being a Pashu Sakhi and how Rang De loans have played a crucial role in her life. 

Pashu Sakhis are indispensable to the fabric of rural Indian life. Their roles in livestock care, veterinary support, and community education not only bolster the rural economy but also enhance community health and resilience. Recognizing and supporting the contributions of Pashu Sakhis is essential for the sustainable development of rural India.

By bringing attention to the incredible work of Pashu Sakhis, we can inspire more support and recognition for these unsung heroes, ensuring a healthier and more prosperous future for rural India.

Here’s your chance to promote animal husbandry to remote corners of India through affordable loans at Invest today!

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1 Comment

Another great Blog Post.

Getting paid for doing work is a challenge. People, even urban residents, do not value knowledge. A doctor must prescribe medicine, and an injection is even better than oral meds.

I thought that they could get paid by the Gram Panchayat as it gets funds from the govt but then the post will be cornered by those with connections, not necessarily skills.

I hope that the sakhis thrive inspite of these challenges.

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