When Jiten Chandra Bora, 45, retired from the BSF four years ago and returned to his home at Diffolo village in Assam’s Nagaon district, he initially thought of buying a truck or a bus to make a living. But with a goat breed upgrade programme arriving in the district, he now not only owns goats of a superior breed that multiply faster, but is also helping other farmers take up goat breeding as an additional source of income.
“Until two years ago my goat, of local breed, used to produce at the most two kids a year. But with a male beetal (a buck that cross-breeds with local goats) I bought a year ago, I have got six kids in 12 months,” said Bora. He bought the beetal at Rs 4,500 through Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA), a World Bank-aided initiative, and it has also supplemented his income through servicing of goats that his fellow villagers bring for cross-breeding.
ATMA is also part of the Assam Agricultural Competitiveness Project (AACP) that was launched in 2005-06, with the goat scheme beginning a year ago. The basic objective of AACP is to increase the productivity and market access of targeted farmers and community groups. The beetal is a goat found originally in Gurdaspur and Amritsar, Punjab, and is now being promoted to produce goats of better quality in several states.
With the introduction of cross-breeding, goats are now healthier, taller and weigh more, thus bringing more money to farmers. The arithmetic that Bora has worked out is: he has 11 females of which five have already given birth to nine improved kids while a sixth goat is pregnant. While each local-bred goat weighs about 16 kg at two years, a cross-bred goat is expected to weigh around 27 kg at the same age, an incremental weight of 11 kg per goat. With goats selling at Rs 300 per kg, each cross-bred goat is expected to fetch Rs 3,300 more.
“If one goat gives on an average two kids in six months, then Bora will be owner of 22 goats in two years, which will give an incremental benefit of Rs 72,600 in two years,” says Nikhil Narayan Baruah, ATMA convener at the Block Resource Centre at Khagorijan, Nagaon. The farmer also earns Rs 150 per servicing of a female goat with his buck, though he restricts the servicing to not more than six in a month. Bora is among 174 owners in the district who have in the process already brought about a sea-change in goat-rearing.
Yusuf Ali of Deodhar village, about a kilometre from Diffolo, has two female goats each of which was so long producing only two kids a year. “Now that I have got the two females serviced through Bora’s buck, both my goats have given birth to three kids each in the last six months,” said Ali. Twenty villagers have got their female goats serviced by Bora’s buck in the past year. “With Jiten Bora providing us such a service, we now have larger and healthier goats,” said Biswajit Saikia of Itapara village.
According to ATMA convener Sarma, if the 174 buck-owners have serviced an average 20 female goats, then farmers under 18 block resource centres in Nagaon district are heading for owning at least 13,760 healthier, weightier goats in the next 12 months. Goat meat has a huge demand in Assam; truck-loads of goats come from Bengal and Bihar to meet the deficit.