The basic financial dynamics that rule the life of a common citizen, such as augmenting sources of livelihood; investment planning; asset maintenance etc., whether in the rural or in the urban sector, follow a similar track. Even if the components they represent are widely diverse. Just as a premium stock taking a sudden tumble in the market upsets an urban investor, a major incidence of a chronic infectious disease among the cattle population can throw an entire village into a panic mode. Because livestock is the most valuable, in fact, most often the only asset of a rural bread-earner. Such is the case in a host of hamlets in coastal Kutchland, Gujarat, that lie within the project site of Coastal Gujarat Private Limited (CGPL), the wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Power. The CGPL project is spread over 6 catchment villages. Tunda-Vandh, Mota Kandagra of Mundra; Nanabhadia, Tragadi and Modva and Mandvi Taluka. Animal husbandry is an important source of livelihood for nearly 60 per cent of the population inhabiting these villages including small and marginal farmers, and poor landless families. And bovine brucellosis has emerged as a major threat in Kutch.
Bovine brucellosis is an ailment of the cattle that causes abortion, the birth of weak or dead calves, infertility and, as a consequence, reduced milk production. Cattle and buffaloes of all ages are susceptible and infection can persist for many years. Most infections result from ingestion of bacteria either from diseased animals or contaminated feed. Infected bulls can spread the disease through semen.
Even worse news is this disease can be transmitted from animals to people. At present in India nearly 32 per cent of the population engaged with animal husbandry are affected with Bovine brucellosis.
Determined to battle the menace, CGPL has worked out a strategy. It has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kutch Nav Nirman Abhiyan (KNNA) for implementation of The Brucellosis Project in 5 blocks of Kutch namely Mundra, Mandvi, Abdasa, Anjar and Nakhtrana.
The projects aims to create awareness on the Brucellosis disease, set up measures to reduce its spread in the Kutch region and support communities engaged with livestock management. Major stakeholders of the programme besides CGPL and KNNA are six Gujarat-based Farmer Producer Companies and the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB).
CGPL supports the project financially, oversees coordination, capacity building and implementation. Kutch Nav Nirman Abhiyan is responsible for the overall coordination, training, monitoring and reporting of the project. The Farmer Producer Companies implement the project at field level. And NDDB manages the clinical and technical components such as blood testing and supply of vaccines, besides taking care of capacity building and central level monitoring.
Work has already begun in earnest. Six Livestock Service Centres, supported by Farmer Producer Companies have been set up. Each has recruited qualified Livestock Inspectors to undertake cattle vaccination and diagnostic tests. The centres are equipped with cold chains for vaccine delivery.
Sample surveys are conducted in each village to determine cattle health status in the regions of operation. Blood samples of cows and buffaloes are collected to run RBPT tests. Cattle owners are informed about the results of the blood sample. If results are positive, information on animal care and curative measures are shared. Milk Ring Tests are performed on milk samples from collection centres of the villages. Various kinds of technical data are being studied and recorded with NDDB’s state of the art software.
CGPL and its partners’ long term plan is to take the Project outside the boundaries of the site and introduce it in 132 villages, each of which have been found harbouring afflicted animals. Medics fear that a significant number of their owners too might be ailing. In this context the research work being driven at the field level by CGPL and its team is of critical importance. It holds out hope for the local communities of a healthier, and hence more secure, future. For themselves and for their most valued possession, their cattle.