Animal husbandry group
“A buffalo is the most important thing to start farming.”This traditional Vietnamese proverb emphasizes the importance of the buffalo to the livelihood of farmers in Vietnam. In rural areas particularly, farmers dream all their lives of owning a buffalo. However in poor, mountainous areas like Tu Ne commune, that dream often never comes true. Instead, most economically marginalized families do not own cattle and are forced to hire others to plough their fields before planting rice each year, which can increase farming costs by up to 33 percent, perpetuating the cycle of poverty.In response to this need, CECAD developed Husbandry Groups in Tu Ne Commune in 2003, followed by groups in Thanh Hoi Commune, Tan Lac District and Hoa Binh Province. Now, there are 6 groups, with a total capital of nearly 100,000,000 VND. The purpose of these Husbandry Groups is to provide poor households the means to purchase cattle. Those in most need are selected through open discussion.Each group is composed of 40-50 households in a single village. CECAD has provided each group with money equal to the value of 3-4 buffaloes or oxen. The capital is assigned to one household at a time and, every two years, that household pays back the money to the group, so another household can borrow the capital to buy cattle. The interest rate is 0.5% per month and paid every 3 months.
For most families, cattle provided through these Husbandry Groups is their first buffalo and their most valuable possession. Villagers love their buffalo as if it were a member of their family and often include the buffalo in their family photograph. Moreover, the group’s activities help the people alleviate poverty within their household and community. As a result, many families have enough money to buy other household equipment and even send their children to school.Mrs. Nguyen Hong Thai is one of the many individuals who celebrate the impact of the Husbandry Groups.“There are five members of my family, but only two who are able to produce income,” she said. “Before taking part in the Husbandry Group, my family was poor; our average income level per capita was only 1,500,000 VND per year. At first, we were supported 3,000,000 VND to buy a cow. Now, with the birth of a calf, the value of our cows is up to 10,000,000 VND. The cow has provided us with the means to plow our field, as well as fertilizer to enrich the soil. We have also contracted to plant a 2000m2 rice field. Our average income per capita is now 2,000,000 VND per year. We are still a poor family, but we no longer earn money meal by meal. Our livelihood has improved.”The Husbandry Groups have faced difficulties. Some borrowers, who have purchased cattle that get sick or even die pay their debt late, which inhibits others from borrowing from the budget. Á well as this, other households do not want to sell their cattle. However, CECAD is working diligently to find solutions for these issues and will continue to create positive changes in these poverty-stricken areas.