Jharkhand's Doctor Didi taking care of domestic animals, traditional livelihood

Express News Service
JHARKHAND: Domestic animals are a source of income in rural areas. But there aren’t many vets in remote villages of Jharkhand. Meet Putul Tigga – ‘Doctor Didi’ for villagers in her Hochar village near the Jharkhand capital’s Ratu block – who looks after their goats and backyard poultry. 

Proud of the honorific, Putul recalls how she has earned it over the last five years. She joined the Self Help Group (SHG) being run from her village in 2016. Thanks to the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana, a part of the National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM) of the Centre, she was trained for providing veterinary support in rural areas.

The job of an ‘Ajivika Pashu Sakhi’, popularly known as ‘Doctor Didi’, is to strengthen traditional livelihood in remote villages. Currently, more than 8,700 SHG women are working as ‘Doctor Didi’ in the state and earning between Rs 7,000 and Rs 10,000 every month.

They support villagers rear the livestock in their backyard, and facilitate market to them through Ajivika Sansadhan Kendra (ASK). This helps the villagers to get a good price for their goat and chicken. Putul takes care of the livestock in three villages and earns more than Rs 8,000 every month.

“People respect me for my work and call me for support whenever they face a problem,” says Putul. She has been elevated to the post of Community Livestock Manager, making her, above all, financially independent.

Some of the SHG women have excelled in their work and given presentations before a World Bank team on the unique concept. Balamdina Tirkey belongs to Angara Block in Ranchi and is among those who have delivered a speech at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi.

Balamdina looks after goats of more than 100 households earning over Rs 10,000 every month, enough to support her family. “Earlier, villagers sold off their goats out of compulsion. But now, they sell it when the animals are fully grown, which provides them good money by trading them,” she says.

Villagers are given basic training about how to take care of their livestock and vaccinate them regularly in order to keep them disease-free. Another SHG woman Suchitra Kashyap says her life has changed drastically as she has been able to educate her children properly. 

‘Doctor Didi’ is a unique concept of the Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society (JLSPS), which has helped the villagers in keeping the mortality rate of goats and poultry low, giving a boost to the rural economy.

“While working in rural areas, I found that even though villagers loved their livestock, they had no control over their health due to ignorance and lack of veterinary support. They were reluctant to visit the facilities for animals as they didn’t have money for the doctors’ fee, who too were hesitant to visit the villages,” said State Nodal Officer (Livestock), Dr Swadesh Singh. 

“So, ‘Doctor Didi’ took birth in the year 2013 and 13 women were given basic training in livestock management, breeding, feeding, de-worming and vaccination,” Singh said.  Gradually a statewide cadre of Doctor Didi was built which succeeded in lowering the mortality rate by around 30 per cent among goats and 40 per cent in poultry.

‘Doctor Didi’ works on a simple business model: the women purchase medicines and vaccines from the market and charge for them from villagers. They get Rs 10 as a service charge for pre-defined services provided by them.

A three-level training module has been developed for them – introductory, practical and upper-level training. They also attend a refresher course every year to keep themselves updated.