Designing and evaluating innovations for development of smallholder female livestock cooperatives
Principal Investigator (PI and Lead Institution
Dr. Conner Mullally, University of Florida
Co-PI and Collaborator Institutions
Montana State University, University of Georgia, Nepal Agricultural Research Council, Interdisciplinary Analysts, and Heifer International
In Nepal, goats are an essential source of income and animal-source foods and nearly every rural Nepali household owns at least a small quantity of goats. Recently, rising urban incomes have translated into higher demand for goat meat but a poorly functioning value chain and limited access to animal feed have left poor smallholders, most of whom are women, unable to benefit. Specific constraints include lack of year-round access to nutritious feed, scarce extension and veterinary services, and poorly functioning output markets, including weak bargaining power and a lack of communication infrastructure. The objectives of the project are to: (1) Increase feed and forage production through preservation, improved varieties, and access to other forage resources for improved livestock productivity; (2) Increase access to markets of meat goats for smallholders in order to improve household income, nutrition, and food security; and (3) Increase the percentage of female Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs) for improved livestock productivity and reduction of animal disease. To address these objectives, the project designs, implements, and rigorously evaluates three interventions to improve goat value chain functionality in rural Nepal. These include:
- Evaluation of several drought-resistant forage varieties, disseminated through CAHWs trained by HI-N and promoted within HI-N smallholder cooperatives. The Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC) will direct this effort, working in four different research locations and collaborating with HI-N and producer cooperatives to introduce varieties and the package of services offered to cooperatives, while training members on the use of silage to reduce dry season feed shortage.
- Assessment of distance learning platform that will make it easier for women to become CAHWs: The project will develop and pilot this platform which will consist of a) a short workshop at a central location for an introduction to and receipt of training materials, including a tablet computer pre-loaded with the government-approved curriculum for training animal health workers and sufficiently ruggedized for the conditions of rural Nepal, b) one or more short in-person follow-up training sessions, c) apprenticeship and/or mentoring from a previously trained CAHW, d) regular tablet-based tests for assessment of learning, and e) final workshop and graduation ceremony. To strengthen the quality of mentorship, experienced CAHWs will be provided mentorship training.
- Assessment of an SMS-based information sharing platform that will improve cooperative efficiency and sustainability: Through the SMS platform, cooperative leaders will communicate with a single member of each SHG (organized by HI-N and consisting of 20-30 women) who will provide their cooperatives with regular updates on the goat inventory of their members; this information will be used by cooperatives to negotiate with buyers. The SMS platform will also be used to communicate information on disease outbreaks, availability of CAHWs, and other services.
The communication interventions will be evaluated using a randomized control trial spanning 109 Village Development Committees in 27 districts, including eight in the Feed the Future Zones of Influence (ZOIs).
Activities to Date Include:
- Review HI-N monitoring data, construct baseline data set: Baseline will be built by closely reviewing existing HI-N monitoring data from the study area, and converting raw data into usable baseline values.
- Initial stakeholder meeting is planned for late November or early December. This meeting of the research team and stakeholders will have as its primary objective to engage these key stakeholders in the intervention design process.
Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems
Department of Animal Sciences
P.O. Box 110910
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