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Enhancing Access to Crop Insurance for the Unreached

Workshop by Sajjata Sangh on 7th March 2017, Ahmedabad

Picture1A state level workshop on the subject was organized on 7th March 2017 in Ahmedabad by Sajjata Sangh, a state level network of civil society organisations in Gujarat and Development Support Center.  The focus of the workshop was on Prime Ministers’ Fasal Bhima Yojana (PMFBY) and the need to include ‘non-loanee’ farmers in the insurance scheme.

PMFBY is a flagship program of the NDA Government. Started in 2016, the budget for the program was increased substantially during the year 2017-18 to Rs.13,240  crores.  The scheme offers highly and the premium at 2% for Kharif crops to cover 40% of the cropped area.  A quick study commissioned by Sajjata Sangh brought out that the scheme has mostly covered farmers who have taken a loan from banks as it is tied to loans. The quick study by Mr.Bhimsi Ahir brought out that those who are out of the formal institutional credit are excluded from getting the benefits of the insurance scheme. This was further reinforced by the observations of the Principal Secretary, Agriculture and the Joint Director, Agriculture, in charge of the program at the state level.

Consultations brought out the need to find ways of reaching out to farmers and get more of the ‘non-loanee’ farmers to apply. Systematic bottlenecks such as producing a formal tenancy agreement, complicate inclusion of tenants into the program. The transaction costs of inclusion of non-loanee farmers are high and must be provided for within the scheme or by the insurance companies. Exploring ways of making the Farmer Producers Organisations (FPOs) or SHG federations as channel agents for insurance, sharing about 4% of the premium for their support functions, would help not only in making the program more inclusive but also reduce the burden on Insurance Companies in reaching out to the farmers. Questions of extending insurance to mixed-crop systems, most prevalent in the rainfed areas still remain.

Crop insurance must not be seen as the only strategy to mitigate risk in rainfed areas; particularly in the context of climate change. It must be an integral package of interventions / a comprehensive approach to secure livelihoods of farmers dealing with risk mitigation in rainfed areas dealing with residual risk. PMFBY will be more effective if it is not a stand-alone intervention, is another conclusion emerging from the workshop.

Further deliberations, brought out the need to take this forward within the RRA Network involving more organisations across different states in such a policy action dialogue for a more inclusive and comprehensive PMFBY. There is also a need to understand the nuances of the scheme in its operation and variants of it across the states.

Thanks to Sachin Ozha, Director of DSC Foundation.

Report: Ravindra A, WASSAN

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Unweaving the Gongadi

Kanna K. Siripurapu,1  Durgalaxmi Venkataswamy,2  Sushma Iyengar,3 and Sabyasachi Das4

1 Revitalizing Rainfed Agriculture Network, 2 Blue Lotus, 3 Sahjeevan, and 4Watershed Support Services and Activity Network.

Email: kanna.siripurapu@gmail.com

Baba baba black sheep have you any wool?

No sir, no sir, I have only meat but no wool!

Meat for the master, meat for the dame,

And my wool was drained down the drain!

Shushma Iyengar

Introduction

Gongadi, (known also as Kambal) is the traditional woolen blanket woven by the indigenous Kuruma pastoralist communities from wool of the indigenous Deccani sheep (known locally as Nalla gorrae) breed found in the Deccan Plateau region including the Indian state of Telangana. The famous blanket has once served the Indian Armed Forces to beat harsh winters at the borders. The traditional gongadi is more than just a piece of woolen blanket for the indigenous Kuruma pastoral communities. The unique gongadi is not only the symbol of rich diverse traditional weaving culture of the Deccan region but also the pride and identity of the local indigenous pastoralist communities. The coarse woolen blanket is famous for its durability and versatility. The tough gongadi usually lasts for more than a decade and acquires this unique quality from the craft of hand weaving. One of the unique natures of gongadi is that it does not fade but grows darker in time. The indigenous Kuruma weavers say that gongadi is so strong that you can lift a fully grown bull off the ground with it. Many types of gongadi are woven by the traditional weavers of the local Kuruma community, which are as follows:

S.No Name/type of Gongadi Size (in feet) Cultural Significance
1 Pattela gongadi 12 x 8
2 Nalla gongadi 12 x 8 Considered auspicious by few and bad by few – depends on suitability to individuals
3 Kasara gongadi 12 x 8 Considered auspicious by few and bad by few – depends on suitability to individuals
4 Tella gongadi 12 x 8 Worn by only royals and saints
5 Boori gongadi
6 Barigi gongadi
  Need further exploration

The weaving craft of Kurumas is not limited to weaving just gongadi but also includes weaving carpets, bedsheets, stolls, scarfs, bags, etc from wool. The traditional gongadi is produced organically, without using any dyes either natural or synthetic. Sizing of the strings is done using the paste of soaked and cooked tamarind seeds. The border/hem (Kada) of traditional gongadi is woven in many designs, which are as follows:

The Different Types of Border/Hem (Kada) of Gongadi
S.No Local Name (Telugu) English
1 Sada kada Simple border/hem
2 Tummakaya kada Acacia tree border/hem
3 Allum madla kada Ginger border/hem
4 Vepakaya kada Neem fruit border/hem
5 Jonnagudla kada Sorghum border/hem
6 Pattu kada Silk border/hem
7 Chinna kada Small border/hem
8 Nimmakaya kada Lemon border/hem
Source: Patil, 2009.
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A weaver couple weaving kada (hem) at Pebbair market, Gadwal.

It takes around three kgs of spun wool and a day for weaving gongadi. The traditional weavers of the local Kuruma community of Salkapuram village, Kalluru Mandal of Kurnool district in Andhra Pradesh weave two types of woolen blankets – the traditional gongadi (tough and coarse) and sawal/jaadi (relatively soft and smooth). Manufacturing of sawal/jaadi is a laborious and cumbersome affair – it takes six people (usually women) to wash it with hot water and polish it for over a week to get the desired softness and finish. The price of different types of handwoven woolen blankets at the local markets are as follows:

S.No Product Type Required Wool Quantity (Kg) Price in INR / Piece
1 Traditional Gongadi 3 2000
2 Sawal/Jaadi (normal) 3 1000
3 Sawal/Jaadi (Special) 5 – 6 3000 OR (INR 600/kg)

Is Wool the New Cotton? -The Dying Tradition of Gongadi

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Kuruma weavers of Salkapuram village, weaving the traditional gongadi

With the collapse of wool-based economy and decline in the population of Deccani sheep breed, the art and craft of weaving the traditional gongada had become a dying tradition. There had been a drastic decline in the traditional woolen blanket weavers as more and more weavers have been giving up the tradition – for instance, earlier there were 100 traditional weavers at Parla village and 60 at Salkapuram village, Kalluru mandal, in Kurnool district but there are only 3 let at Parla and 5 at Salkapuram village. Similarly only one weaver left at Gangapur village, in Narayankhed Mandal, Sangareddy district of Telangana. Also villages of, Amarachinta, Palamanchara, Pedda devulapuram, and Chinna devulapuram of Kurnool district had significant number of traditional wool blanket weavers, but none exist now.

With the decline in number of traditional weavers, the knowledge and skills associated with indigenous wool craft is near extinction. For instance, local women who were traditionally engaged in carding and spinning of wool are not doing them anymore. Almost the entire local Kuruma weavers have shifted to settled agriculture, taking up wage labour or migrating to cities in pursuit of better prospects, even if that means doing menial jobs. And the local shepherds have been replacing the dual purpose, woolen Deccani breed with hairy, non-wool breeds, such as Nellore and Ongole. Only a fraction of the traditional weavers are hanging on to this rich and otherwise dying tradition.[1] There are multiple reasons for traditional weavers moving away from the craft.

Narratives of the Shepherds and the Traditional Weavers

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Kuruma weaver arranging the strains before weaving of gongadi

Shepherds complain that there is a lack of shearers to fleece the sheep. Earlier shearers (also belongs to Kuruma community) used to come to fleece the sheep but not anymore. A decade ago, shearers used to pay INR 5/- per sheep to the shepherd in return for wool – but things have changed now – The shearer charges INR 20/- per sheep to fleece, in addition the shepherd should also arrange for food and drinks for the shearer. This is considered as an economic burden by the shepherds. Now the shepherds themselves fleece their sheep and discard the wool – dump it either on road side, waterbody or on fallows. Earlier shepherds used to earn INR 100/- for fleece from 1000 sheep – there were local wool entrepreneurs who used to procure wool from the shepherds – the entire local wool market has collapsed since the local entrepreneurs’ shutdown their business – nobody buys wool from the shepherds now. Consequently, the woolen Deccani breed has been replaced by the hairy, non-wool (Nellore and Ongole) breeds locally.[2]

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Wool blanket traders at Pebbair market, Gadwal

Traditional weavers say that it has become difficult for them to make ends meet as handloom industry has become highly unviable.  They say that unless the woolen blanket (sawal/jaadi) is sold for a minimum of INR 1000/- per piece, the woolen handloom industry may not survive for long. To make the wool handloom industry viable a weaver should earn a minimum wage of INR 300/- per day, as the weaver spends INR 120 – 150/- on an average per day to weave a woolen blanket. Usually, women of the community spin the yarn and charge around INR 250/- for spinning (usually 3 kgs) of wool, which also adds to the expenses incurred by the weavers. Manufacturing the sawal/jaadi requires almost a week of through washing and rubbing of the blanket with hot water, which is usually done by women. The labour (usually for six days of six women) and labour charges for six persons not only makes the process of manufacturing a sawal/jaadi laborious but also less remunerative as the margin the weaver usually earns is very narrow.  One of the biggest drawback of traditional wool blanket (gongadi) is that it is purchased only by the indigenous shepherd communities – others don’t buy it – therefore the market and customer base is very narrow. The woolen blanket traders and local weavers regularly move from mandi to mandi (local market) and door to door to sell their woolen blankets.

On the other hand the complete collapse of local wool supply and market has left the weavers travel to far-off places for procurement of raw material. The few traditional weavers left in Medak district of Telangana and Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh travel to Chelliker market in the neighbouring state of Karnataka to procure wool (raw material). The weavers buy raw wool obtained from fleecing live sheep and wool fleeced from slaughtered animals at the abettors, located in Karnataka. The local weavers at Salkapuram village, of Kurnool district buy around ten quintals at every purchase from the Chelliker wool market in Karnataka. Chitradurga market in Karnataka is the second largest wool market after Bellari in Karnataka. The price of different wool products at Chelliker market is as follows:

S.No Product Type Price in INR / Kg
1 Raw wool 60
2 Yarn/thread (good quality) 110
3 Yarn/thread (inferior quality) 80 – 90

Impact on Employment and Household income of Kuruma community

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The Traditional Sawal/Jaadi for sale at Pebbair market, Gadwal

Manufacturing the traditional gonagadi demands creativity and a lot of patience. The traditional gongadi requires 3 – 4 kg of wool and takes a month to finish. Weaving of the traditional gongadi involves both men and women. Women are involved in carding and spinning of wool, which takes up to 21 days to finish.  Women are also involved in giving finishing touches like weaving boarders/hems (Kada), a laborious work which takes anywhere between 7 to 10 days. Men are involved in wrapping, sizing, making heads, and weaving using the handloom known locally as gunta maggam. Around 600 HHs of three districts of Medak, Sangareddy and Siddipet of Telangana are involved in gongadi weaving. Around 150 women are specialized in carding, spinning of wool and weaving Kada.[3] The retail price of traditional gongadi at the local market can be anywhere between INR 1200 – 1400, and a custom made one can fetch INR 2000 and above. Women does carding and spinning during the leisure hours of the day and they could earn anywhere between INR 50 – 100 per day from carding/spinning. Men take between 3 – 5 days for weaving the traditional gongadi. The disappearance of gongadi can have a significant impact on local employment and HH income, especially for women. However, a detail study has to be conducted to estimate the real impact of gongadi on local employment, HH income and women.

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The traditional loom used by Kurumas for weaving gongadi

Impact on the Indigenous Pastoral Kuruma Culture

The traditional gongadi extends beyond the art and craft of weaving. It is intricately woven into the customs, traditions, culture and social fabric of the indigenous Kuruma pastoralist community. It is not meant to be covered by the shepherds for protection against heat and cold but it is a fabric that nurtures their rich legacy and culture. Gognadi is very sacred and holy for Kurumas. Either birth or death, wedding, ritual or festival, or any other auspicious event in Kuruma community, they are incomplete without wool and gongadi. The disappearance of gongadi could prove very costly to the rich culture of the indigenous Kuruma community.

Efforts for Reviving the Wool-based Economy in Telanagana

Few civil society organizations, notably Anthra and alliances like the Food Sovereignty Alliance, India (FSA) has worked extensively on conservation of the Deccani sheep breed and reviving the gongadi and local wool-based economy. They have collaborated with the local traditional handloom weavers of Kuruma community and their associations – the Deccani Gorrela Mekala Pempakamdarla Sangham (DGMPS), of Peddagottimukka village of Medak district, Sri. Berrappa Swamy Sangham, of Gangapur village, in Naranyakhed mandal of Sangareddy district of Telangana, for reviving the local wool-based economy.

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The Telangana state government also took up few interesting initiatives for reviving the handloom industry including the woolen handlooms. The state has announced around thirteen different schemes for the state handloom industry. Few recently announced such schemes are “Nethannaku Cheyuta Scheme” and “Telangana Handloom Weavers Thrift Fund Saving and Security Scheme (TFSSS)”, launched in 2017 and “Worker to Owner Programme” announced in 2018. The schemes provides fifty percent subsidized raw materials (yarn, dyes etc), logistic support and also marketing facilities to powerloom and handloom weavers. The state is also considering geo-tagging of handlooms and powerlooms for enumeration of both handlooms and powerlooms in the State.

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Wool carding machine at Salkapuram village, Kurnool district, AP

The traditional wool weavers, of Kurnool district has received an amount of INR 50,000/- loan for investment. The loan is split in to subsidy worth INR 10,000/- and the remaining INR 40,000/- should be paid by the beneficiary to the bank on a monthly instalment of INR 2,500/-. The government of the former undivided Andhra Pradesh has provided a large shed with a capacity of 60 looms to the handloom wool weavers at Salkapuram village, Kalluru Mandal, Kurnool district. The local weavers have also bought a carding machine some three decades ago with the support of the former undivided Andhra Pradesh. The carding unit is maintained by one of the six weavers left in the village. He charges around INR 10/- is for carding one kg of wool at the carding unit. The collected money is used for maintenance of the unit. The carding machine has the capacity of 300 kgs/day, however, people complain about huge amount of dust that comes out the machine during carding, which not only chokes the operators but also leads to pulmonary diseases. The occupational health hazards is something that lacks focus especially in the handloom sector.

Major Issues Looming Over the Loom

Many factors have been contributing to the decline of Deccani sheep breed, thereby affecting the local wool market and traditional gongadi-based economy:

  1. There had been a shift from wool-based economy to meat-based economy,
  2. There had been a strong push from the state towards meat production through subsidies,
  3. Shepherds have been replacing their wool-breeds with meat-breeds in pursuit of higher income,
  4. This shift has contributed to decline of the indigenous woolen Deccani sheep breed,
  5. The availability of wool has decreased, thereby affecting the gongadi weaving tradition and the local handloom market,
  6. Many artisans gave up the tradition of weaving gongadi as the market for gongadi diminished,
  7. The traditional weaving and local wool-based markets have crumbled due to middlemen and interventions of the state, such as creation of wool-based cooperatives,[4]
  8. The shift of local barter system surrounding gongadi in to a money exchange system,
  9. The supply of power looms to wool-cooperatives by the state has negative impact on the traditional handloom industry,
  10. The availability of cheaper synthetic and shoddy winter blankets had a major impact on sale of relatively expensive gongadi,
  11. The younger generation no longer want to inherit the gongadi weaving tradition as it does not seem to fulfil their aspirations, and
  12. The shrinking of once vast commons,4 restrictions on access to customary grazing pastures inside forests and shift in the cropping pattern from food grains to commercial crops (cotton), among others.

About the Study

Kanna2A study on the socio-cultural and economic aspects of pastoral communities of the Deccan region was conducted by Sahjeevan and Center for Pastoralism based in Ahmadabad and New Delhi respectively, with the field support of Watershed Support Services and Activity Network and Revitalizing Rainfed Agriculture Network, during July – September, 2018. The pilot study was conducted at four villages of Chennapur, Sivampet Mandal, Medak district, Gangapur, Naranyankhed mandal of Sangareddy district and Adilabad district of Telangana and Parla and Salkapuram village, of Kalluru mandal of Kurnool district, of Andhra Pradesh. The resource persons have been selected based on the purposeful sampling technique. Around 60 persons (mostly sheep rearers and traditional weavers) of the indigenous Kuruma community have been involved in the study. Data (predominantly qualitative) was collected through focus group interviews and personal interviews, using open ended questions. The study has also involved a visit to the livestock market of Pebbar, of Mahbubnagar district of Telangana, one of the largest livestock markets in the state. The visit involves personal observations and interaction with sheep rearers and traders for data collection.

Bibliography

Amareswari, P., M. G. Prakash, B. Ekambaram, M. Mahendar and Ch. H. Krishna, 2017. Molecular genetic studies on Nellore and Deccani sheep using microsatellite markers. Indian J. Anim. Res., Print ISSN: 0367-6722 / Online ISSN: 0976-0555.

Bhatia, S. and Arora, A. 2005. Biodiversity and Conservation of Indian Sheep Genetic Resources – An Overview. Asian-Aust. J. Anim. Sci. 2005. Vol 18, No. 10: 1387-1402.

Iyer, L. 2017. Telangana Government Steps in to Help Weaving Community. THE WEEK. February, 20, 2017.

Janyala, S. 2017. Telanagana’s Flagship Scheme a Tale of Sheep that Kept Coming Back. The Indian Express. Accessed online: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/telanganas-flagship-scheme-a-tale-of-sheep-that-kept-coming-back/

Mahender, A 2018. Deccani Sheep Off the Menu. The Hans India. Accessed online: http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Khammam-Tab/2018-06-14/Deccani-sheep-meat-is-off-the-menu/389181

Mithun, MK . 2018. Telangana government’s sheep scheme pushing ‘Gongadi’ weavers to brink? Indian Express. 07th January 2018.

Mallick, A. 2017. Reviving the Ba Ba Black Sheep of Telangana: The Yarn of the Gongadi Blanket. The News Minute, 7’ January, 2017.

Patil, G. 2009. Gongadi – The woolen blanket of Telangana. Anthra, Andhra Pradesh, India.

Ramdas, S., 2015. Sheep and Shepherds: A lost opportunity? Food Sovereignty Alliance. WordPress.

Sudhakar, K. 2017. A Study on Temporal Changes of Deccani Sheep Rearing in Mahabubnagar District of Telangana State. Thesis submitted to   P.V. Narsimha Rao Telangana Veterinary University, Rajendranagar, Telangana.

Telangana Today, 2017. Telangana Government to give 50 per cent Subsidy for Handloom Weavers: KT Rama Rao. Telangana Today, 24, July, 2017.

Telangana Today, 2018. Telangana Focusing on Sustainable Livelihood for Weavers. Telangana Today, 27, March, 2018.

The Hindu, 2017. Slew of Schemes Launched for Weavers. The Hindu, 25, June, 2017.

The World Bank, SERP, Commissioner, Rural Development, Gov. of Andhra Pradesh, (n.d.). Reviving Deccani Sheep Breed for Climate Resilience – Processes Emerging from the Experience of Andhra Pradesh Drought Adaptation Initiative (APDAI). Commissioner, Rural Development and Watershed Support Services and Activity Network (WASSAN), Secunderabad, Telangana, India.

Yadav, A.K., et al, 2017. Characteristic Features of Registered Indigenous Sheep Breeds of India: A Review. Int. J. Pure App. Biosci. 5 (2): 332-353.


[1] Mallick, A. 2017. Reviving the Ba Ba Black Sheep of Telangana: The Yarn of the Gongadi Blanket. The News Minute, 7’ January, 2017.

[2] Mithun, MK. 2018. Telangana government’s sheep scheme pushing ‘Gongadi’ weavers to brink? Indian Express. 07th January 2018.

[3] MK Mithun, 2018. Telangana government’s sheep scheme pushing ‘Gongadi’ weavers to brink? Indian Express. 07th January 2018.

[4] Patil, G. 2009. Gongadi – The woolen blanket of Telangana. Anthra, Andhra Pradesh, India.

Grazing the Deccani into Twilight

Kanna K. Siripurapu1, Durgalaxmi Venkataswamy2, Sushma Iyengar3, and Sabyasachi Das4

1 Revitalizing Rainfed Agriculture Network, 2 Blue Lotus, 3 Sahjeevan, and 4Watershed Support Services and Activity Network.
Email: 

Introduction

Indigenous sheep are an integral part of the agro-ecological systems of India and contribute greatly to the agrarian economy especially in the rainfed regions of the sub-continent. They play an important role in the livelihood of not only the indigenous pastoralist communities but also of a large proportion of small and marginal farmers and landless.

Grazing the Deccani into Twilight1India is internationally renowned for its indigenous cattle and ovine diversity, however, more than 50% of indigenous sheep breeds are under serious threat. In addition, characterization of the indigenous sheep breeds was done more than half a century ago. The surveys conducted in the majority of the regions/breeds are far from complete and information on recent estimates are unavailable (Bhatia and Arora, 2005). Adding to the already grim picture is the serious threat of genetic erosion and contamination from intermixing of nearby breeds, the introduction of exotic breeds, crossbreeding and artificial insemination programmes of the government and changes in farming, land-tenure system have led to the decline in purebred population and dilution of genetic merit. (Bhatia and Arora, 2005).

The Indigenous Deccani Sheep Breed

The Deccani sheep breed has existed in the Deccan Plateau region (including Telangana state) for centuries. The name had been derived from its geographic distribution over the Deccan Plateau region. The dual-purpose Deccani in southern – peninsular are not only important numerically but also the largest contributors to carpet wool and meat production in the country (Bhatia and Arora, 2005). The relatively small and hardy breed is very well adapted to the poor semi-arid/rainfed pastoralist conditions. The animals are hardy and capable of walking long distances during migration (Bhatia and Arora, 2005). The breed could be an admixture of the woolly types of Rajasthan and the hairy types of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu (Yadav, A.K., et al, 2017).

The breed is known for its low-grade coarse fleece and shred twice a year. The first shearing is done when the animal is six months old. Annually, the breed yields about 500 – 700 gms, relatively low-grade wool, mostly used by the indigenous Kuruma communities for manufacturing rough blankets, known locally as gongadi (Patil, 2009). According to the local pastoralist communities, the breed comes in six different coats: Nalla (black), Barrigi (reddish brown/beige), Neeli (ash/gray), Kassera (light ash/gray), Jalla (white-black), and Tella (white), (Patil, 2009). The breed is maintained in large flocks and traditionally the Kuruma community had been rearing and conserving the Deccani sheep breed, through selective breeding, true to the breed type.

There had been many reports on the declining population of Deccani sheep in the Indian state of Telangana (Ramdas, 2015, The World Bank et al, n.d., Sudhakar, 2017, Amareswari, et al, 2017, Janyala, 2017, Mithun, 2018). The reports have been pointing at the National Centre for Disease Control’s (NCDC) initiative, a part of the Telangana state welfare programme aimed at increasing meat production through the participation of the indigenous Golla and Kuruma communities. A small study was conducted in four districts of Telangana with an objective to capture the other narratives, especially of the indigenous shepherds and traditional weavers to gain more clarity over the issue.

About the Study and Study Area

A study on the socio-cultural and economic aspects of pastoral communities of the Deccan region was conducted by Sahjeevan and Center for Pastoralism based in Ahmadabad and New Delhi respectively, with the field support of Watershed Support Services and Activity Network and Revitalizing Rainfed Agriculture Network, during July – September, 2018. The pilot study was conducted at four villages of Chennapur, Sivampet Mandal, Medak district, Gangapur, Naranyankhed mandal of Sangareddy district and Adilabad district of Telangana and Parla and Salkapuram village, of Kalluru mandal of Kurnool district, of Andhra Pradesh. The resource persons have been selected based on the purposeful sampling technique. Around 60 persons (mostly sheep rearers and traditional weavers) of the indigenous Kuruma community have been involved in the study. Data (predominantly qualitative) was collected through focus group interviews and personal interviews, using open ended questions. The study has also involved a visit to the livestock market of Pebbar, of Mahbubnagar district of Telangana, one of the largest livestock markets in the state. The visit involves personal observations and interaction with sheep rearers and traders for data collection.

The Vanishing Deccani Sheep Breed

The indigenous Deccani sheep breed had been under serious threat from multiple factors, such as shortage of labour, shrinking commons, restrictions on access to customary grazing lands inside the forests, change in lifestyle and aspirations of the pastoralist communities, etc, have been adding to worsen the situation. In addition, the collapse of woolen market across the sub-continent has added to owes of the breed and the shepherds, compelling them to abandon dual purpose breed like Deccani and gravitate towards rearing non-wool-hairy breeds and predominantly meat production.

Grazing the Deccani into Twilight2Telangana state ranks 6th in the country in meat production and the state government had been pushing meat industry involving the indigenous pastoralist communities like Gollas and Kurumas. As part of the state welfare programs, the government of Telangana had been distributing 84 lakh sheep to 4 lakh shepherds belonging to the Kurma and Golla, communities. The INRs 5000 crores worth program, will distribute a unit of 21 animals (20 ewes + 1 breeding ram) to each beneficiary household on a 75% subsidy. Each unit costs INRs 1.25 lakhs, including logistics and insurance and beneficiaries should be members of the local sheep cooperatives (Govt. of Telangana, 2017, Ramdas, 2015). The state under the National Centre for Disease Control’s (NCDC) initiative, has already sanctioned INR 398.88 crore to eight districts for promoting sheep breeds suitable for meat production (Mithun, 2018).

Under the above special package for shepherd communities’ programme, the Telangana government had been distributing the Nellore sheep, a non-native, fast growing, relatively tall, meat producing reddish brown hairy coated breed on a massive scale (Ramdas, 2015, The World Bank et al, n.d., Sudhakar, 2017, Amareswari, et al, 2017, Janyala, 2017, Mithun, 2018). As a result of this intervention the already declining population of Deccani sheep breed had been decreased by 90 percent in districts like Medak (Mithun, (2018). The left 10 percent population is under serious threat from cross breeding with the non-native hairy coated Nellore and Ongole breeds. Cross breeding of Deccani with Nellore and Ongole breeds has already resulted in production of hybrids without wool. Thanks to the synergic effect of all the above mentioned factors that the once widely available local delicacy, the Deccani sheep meat is currently off the menu (Mahender, 2018). Our observations of the declining Deccani sheep in the present study area also corroborates to findings and reports of Ramdas, (2015), The World Bank et al, (n.d.), Sudhakar, (2017), Amareswari, et al, (2017), Janyala, (2017), and Mithun, (2018).

Narratives of the Shepherds

Local shepherds do not find any advantage of Nellore breed over Deccani in terms of weight and meat production, moreover, they prefer Deccani over Nellore (Sudhakar, 2017). The local breeders and traders even use the metaphor of indigenous chicken and crossbreed broiler chicken to compare the meat quality of Deccani and Nellore. One breeder/trader at Pebbar market says that:

Deccani is just like our indigenous chicken, tasty and pricey and Nellore is just like the crossbreed broiler chicken, bulks up quickly but tasteless.”

Despite their preference of Deccani over Nellore, local shepherds are still gravitated towards rearing Nellore breed mainly for the following reasons: labour shortage, absence of shearers, collapse of local fleece market, and lack of buyers. Traditionally shearers used to visit the flocks to shear the fleece and paid INR 5/- to the shepherd in return for fleece. But currently things have changed and rearers have to pay INR 10 – 20/- to the shearer for shearing once. The sheep should be sheared twice and spending INR 20 – 40/- over each animal is not considered economical by the rearers. Further, local sheep rearers do not find any use of the fleece, it is often discarded on the road side or dumped into the waterbodies. Local rearers are not familiar with operating the traditional shear used for fleecing, and shortage of labour is adding to the problem, even if they would like to do it themselves.

Almost all the shepherds at the Pebbar market has referred to the late Beespalli, a local fleece entrepreneur of Chagapur village. He used to buy fleece from the rearers and sold it to local wool weavers. However, everything has collapsed after he passed away and there had been no other buyer since his demise. As a result of lack local production and supply of wool the number of traditional (gongadi) weavers has decreased by 90 – 95 % at Chennapur, Sivampet Mandal, Medak district, Gangapur, Bijilipur, Saipet, Dakur, Talelmeh and Vangadal of Naranyankhed and Regadu mandals of Sangareddy district of Telangana and Parla and Salkapuram village, of Kalluru mandal of Kurnool district, of Andhra Pradesh.

The Need for Conservation of Indigenous Sheep Genetic Resources

The molecular genetic studies on Nellore and Deccani sheep conducted by Amareswari, et al (2017) suggests that there is a high degree of genetic variation within the breeds and these two breeds differ significantly in phenotype and performance. The study further suggests that existing variations hold scope for further improvement of these breeds and calls for enhanced efforts to preserve the purity of these breeds in the present context of crossbreeding of these two breeds, in the native tract of Deccani sheep (Amareswari, et al 2017). Bhatia and Arora, (2005) points that conservation of sheep genetic resources, is not only a national but also an international issue, therefore, immediate measures should be taken to for a combined effort of conservation of sheep diversity and self-reliance.

References

Amareswari, P., M. G. Prakash, B. Ekambaram, M. Mahendar and Ch. H. Krishna, 2017. Molecular genetic studies on Nellore and Deccani sheep using microsatellite markers. Indian J. Anim. Res., Print ISSN: 0367-6722 / Online ISSN: 0976-0555.

Bhatia, S. and Arora, A. 2005. Biodiversity and Conservation of Indian Sheep Genetic Resources – An Overview. Asian-Aust. J. Anim. Sci. 2005. Vol 18, No. 10: 1387-1402.

Janyala, S. 2017. Telanagana’s Flagship Scheme a Tale of Sheep that Kept Coming Back. The Indian Express. Accessed online: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/telanganas-flagship-scheme-a-tale-of-sheep-that-kept-coming-back/

 Mahender, A 2018. Deccani Sheep Off the Menu. The Hans India. Accessed online: http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Khammam-Tab/2018-06-14/Deccani-sheep-meat-is-off-the-menu/389181

Mithun, MK . 2018. Telangana government’s sheep scheme pushing ‘Gongadi’ weavers to brink? Indian Express. 07th January 2018.

Mallick, A. 2017. Reviving the Ba Ba Black Sheep of Telangana: The Yarn of the Gongadi Blanket. The News Minute, 7’ January, 2017.

Patil, G. 2009. Gongadi – The woolen blanket of Telangana. Anthra, Andhra Pradesh, India.

Ramdas, S., 2015. Sheep and Shepherds: A lost opportunity? Food Sovereignty Alliance. WordPress.

Sudhakar, K. 2017. A Study on Temporal Changes of Deccani Sheep Rearing in Mahabubnagar District of Telangana State. Thesis submitted to   P.V. Narsimha Rao Telangana Veterinary University, Rajendranagar, Telanagana.

The World Bank, SERP, Commissioner, Rural Development, Gov. of Andhra Pradesh, (n.d.). Reviving Deccani Sheep Breed for Climate Resilience – Processes Emerging from the Experience of Andhra Pradesh Drought Adaptation Initiative (APDAI). Commissioner, Rural Development and Watershed Support Services and Activity Network (WASSAN), Secunderabad, Telangana, India.

Yadav, A.K., et al, 2017. Characteristic Features of Registered Indigenous Sheep Breeds of India: A Review. Int. J. Pure App. Biosci. 5 (2): 332-353.

Exposure Visit of the partners of VB Network in Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh

An Exposure Visit of the partners of the VB Net was held in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh on December 10 – 13, 2017. The visit was organized by VB Net and RRAN to observe the work of RRAN in fisheries, backyard poultry, and millets especially SMI (System of Millet Intensification). Participants left Ranchi on 9th December and reached Srikakulam on 10th December and stayed at a society named Action In Rural Technology (ART) where Mr. Kalyan Patra guided the group.

The main objectives of the exposure visit were included the following:-

  1. Observe, understand and learn the various activities of RRAN including the functioning, understand the success models already implemented by RRAN so that it helps the VBN partners to move ahead with the activities and explore the possibilities of replication in Jharkhand.

First day was visited Panasaguda village of Sitempetta block Srikakulam with WASSAN team to observe and learn the millet cultivation and learned that it needs less water and low maintenance and also high yielding and has high demand in the market. Thus making it highly economical and containing a nutritious value like protein, vitamins and so on. Millets (Like Jowar , Bajra, Ragi etc.) has multipurpose use and is used in various types of food, in bakery, snacks etc.

Picture1

Here we learn the processing of millet cultivation and its processing system then market value. In the introductory session, participants were shown a desi poultry farm. Participants were shown how to make a poultry farm with a local hen, the regional manager of WASSAN RRAN Mr Rao explained how they implement the model in a saturation model. He told us what was the last scenario of the village before the millets activity. The local millet are been packet and supply to Anganwadi Kendra& differ girls hostel and some millets are supplying to local biscuit factory to make millet biscuit.This millet mill was constructed by a local NGO Chinnayyaadivasivikashsangam(CAVS) supported by NABARD. The founder of CAVS explained how he promotes the millet farming in millet intensification method in the tribal area and try to make a Farmer producer organization.

On 12th December participants went for fishery and backyard poultry. It was learned that the two activities are also very significant and effective due to its high economic growth.

Picture3

At first the backyard poultry which was observed was fully set up in the proper systematic way as poultry farm, next boundary cover with potential plantation for the birds, next the time to time de-worming and vaccination of the birds, the male and female ratio set up, their hatching, laying, Azolla cultivation for them and worm creation. For implementing the model, at first a common interest group (CIG) with 1 entrepreneur with 100 households was formed and one president and a secretary were chosen. The membership charge for the entrepreneur is Rs. 5000 and for every household Rs.100. The money is debited from a bank for future use. A breeding farm is supported to the entrepreneur from program cost who have minimum 0.5 acres of land. The entrepreneur also invest some own money to make the total area & every household will make a night shelter. In 1st stage, the entrepreneur will start his farm with 50 hen & 10 cocks. The entrepreneur will supply 5 chicks to each & every 100 households, after that he can sell the hen/chicken in the market. For every chick, he will get 80/-(60/- program cost & 20/- from each beneficiary).For vaccination of hen 2 resource person is appointed by the CIG group and for each vaccination, he will pay 2/- each. For the deworming of hen, then give some organic medicine to the hen.

This is a perfect model to enhance the livelihood in a sustainable way.

Thereafter fishing cultivation was observed which was also very interesting. Group learned about the right ph of water, the right presence of plankton for high productivity of fishes. Fisheries expert Mr. Bidyabhusan Dutta showed us how we can measure the PH of pond water with a testing kit. He also measured the rate of phytoplankton in water by the testing kit in a demonstration pond.

Pictur2

On the 2nd day, participants visited a millet biscuit bakery where different types of multigrain millet grain biscuits are made and are been supply to different areas.

Overall these were the observations of the group and after a vast learning experience, the group returned on 13th December from Srikakulam.

Way Forward

  • To explore the possibility of replicating various sustainable model in Jharkhand
  •  To improve community management system.