Is goat breeding profitable in Karnataka

Tribal women embarrass the market on India's heat-hardy black goats


Cutting out the middleman has helped rural populations survive as they face the deterioration of heat and drought as a result of climate change


Skinny black goats owned by the tribal people of Attapadi, in India's western ghats, are known for their agility.

Not only are they resistant to most of the diseases that make other goats sick, they have a unique ability to expand in increasingly severe heat in southern India, researchers say.

"Black goats can even withstand scorching heat without much care and attention," said T. Giggin, a professor of agriculture at Kerala's Agricultural University.

This reputation for resilience has not been lost in the region's cattle dealers who trekked into the foothills in recent years to buy cheap goats from struggling tribal families and then sell them, at much higher prices, in the livestock markets .

Now, however, tribal communities have come together to cut out the middlemen and keep more income at home by just creating a "goat village" where tribal people all over the region sell their animals at a fixed price to visiting shoppers.

The change has helped shore up tribal families from scorching heat, which in recent years has dried up many streams in the region's hamlets and forced an increasing number of families to sell livestock or to towns in Kerala and Tamil Nadu on that Migrate looking for work.

"This coming summer I have a powerful weapon (against drought) - our native Attapadi black goat," said Ponnamma Thaghachan, a 38-year-old farmer in the village of Kullappadi.

An Attapadi black goat is loaded into a trailer for sale at the "Goat Village" in Agali, South India. TRF / K. Rajendran


In the previous year, Vijayan Nair, a livestock dealer from Kozhikode, said he was able to buy black goats from villages in Attapadi for 1,000 rupees ($ 15) each as drought-stricken families in search of supplies Cash were sold.

"Because of the early onset of the drought, most of the other goat breeding across Kerala is tired," he said. "But demand for the strong Attapadi goats has been increased enormously."

His most recent visit, however, which aimed to take home a dozen black goats for resale, wasn't quite as profitable.

In Agali, where local people now bring their goats for sale, the animals sell for a minimum of 280 rupees ($ 4) per kilo, or more than 5,000 rupees ($ 75) for a typical animal.

"I sold my 20-pound goat for rupees 5,600 ($ 84) and the money was immediately added to my bank account," said Sundhari, a tribal woman who is one of those who raise the robust goats.

"Now I'm sad that last summer I sold three goats, much bigger than this one, for just rupees 1,000 each," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The goat sales cooperative, created by a coalition of women's support groups with support from the National Livestock Order, serves 192 tribal villages, its backers said.

“Now no middlemen can pillage the tribes. People can only sell Attapadi goats through the goat village and buyers can only buy them through us, ”said Seema Bhaskar, who coordinates the project for the National Livestock Order.

Women gather at the "goat village" in Agali, in South India. TRF / K. Rajendran

Even at higher prices, demand for the goats remains relatively strong, with 28 goats sold over a new week in January.

“Every day we receive examinations from farmers about the condition. They want real breeding, ”Bhaskar said.

Centralized sales could also help shoppers who sometimes inadvertently purchase animals that are not Attapadi black goats, she said.

Joseph Kurian, a livestock farmer from Kottayam, who toured the village recently, said he bought a goat two years ago that was sold as an Attapadi - but realized he had been cheated when it passed out in the heat .

He said he was willing to pay a fair price - "but I should get the real breed," he said.

If summer temperatures continue to rise in the region, Attapadi goat breeders say they are aware that they may soon face competition from some of their buyers who intend to start raising the beautiful animals themselves.

The women are now looking to other products that the cooperative might be selling. A women's group in the neighboring village of Pudur has started offering traditional medicine from a central point of sale and another group in Sholayur is now selling organic food.