The Role of Women in Silage

Amidst local availability and awareness of silage, female farmers still suffer from a general lack of access to services and information that could potentially enhance animal milk yields and income. 85 per cent of women are involved in milking, feeding and taking care of animals at household level, in Khyber Paktunwa. 23 per cent females are involved in selling of milk and market activity. However, we do find exceptions and hear about great stories in remote regions, like Khyber Paktunwa.

One such story is of Dorana Bibi, who lives in Peshawar with her disabled son and takes care of seven animals on her own. She has been feeding silage, which has proved to be beneficial in their productivity.IMG_1399

 “I have been taking care of animals since I was a little girl. Introduction to silage was a blessing for my household. I can now sell surplus milk in the market. The increased income has helped me get medicines for my son,” says Dorana Bibi.

Dorana Bibi steps out into the market to sell the milk on her own and gets to spend money by her choice. Most of her income is spent in buying medicines for her son.

IMG_1231Meet Furqana, a widow and mother of 3 children, who solely takes care of her animals at her house. Her daughter-in-law has now started to help her sometimes with milking and feeding of animals. She heard about silage from her neighbouring farmers and introduced silage at her household. Her daughter-in-law shared:

“I learned about silage from my mother-in-law and now I tell other women in the neighbourhood, who takes care of animals in their household.”

Women can be significant catalysts for change, but these benefits will only be realised if women are central to the design and implementation of every stage of the silage business model. MDF is also facilitating female silage entrepreneurs, who will create availability of small silage packages along with imparting vital information to female farmers and involving them in market transactions. The female farmers would now have an avenue, and the social comfort, in directly purchasing fodder for their animals from the female silage entrepreneurs. Through this partnership, MDF aims to encourage female farmers to be involved in market transactions and influence decisions related to animal care-taking within their respective households.

The fodder market is fundamental to the livelihoods of many poor people. In Khyber Paktunwa, MDF through its silage entrepreneurs is reaching out to 494 households and created PKR 20.2 million additional income. The uptake of silage has resulted in 2.6 litres increase in animals’ milk yields per day. The silage business model with innovations have real potential for rapid and lasting pro-poor systemic change.