Goat rearing in Maharashtra gets a fillip as a goat bank in Akola district offers a unique scheme where people can borrow a pregnant goat from a bank and repay the loan in kind with four baby goats, within 40 months.
Photo: Naresh Deshmukh
People in Sanghavi Mohali village in Akola district, Maharashtra, are not kidding when they say their village has a bank called the Karkheda Goat Bank. Like any other bank, it offers loans to its customers, but, instead of money, it lends them pregnant goats upon payment of Rs 1,100 a goat. All that the bank expects as repayment for each goat are four goat kids. The system has worked out well so far, and the bank has ‘lent’ more than 500 goats and has received a thousand baby goats as repayment.
The bank was launched by 52-year-old Naresh Deshmukh in 2018. “Sustaining a livelihood on farming alone is not feasible anymore in rural areas,” observed Deshmukh.
“People rear cows, buffaloes or goats to augment their income. And, goat rearing has been the most profitable,” he told Gaon Connection. “A goat has two or three kids in seven to eight months, and if those kids are well nourished, they become productive in twelve months,” Deshmukh explained. It is a viable money-making option, he added.
Naresh launched his goat bank as a pilot project in 2018 with a loan of Rs 40 lakh. With the money, he bought 340 goats that he lent to 340 families upon payment of Rs 1,100 a goat. “The repayment can be done in instalments, within forty months,” Deshmukh explained. If a goat has more than four kids, those remain with the borrowers, he added.
According to the 20th Cattle Census, the total number of goats in the country is 148.9 million, out of which Maharashtra has 10.6 million goats.
Deshmukh and a few others with him started the pilot project. “We also conducted a study to determine who would be helped most by this scheme,” said Deshkumh. The consensus was that women would benefit a lot,” he said. The bank tries to spread its loans instead of concentrating on just a handful of individuals, in order to widen the net of beneficiaries.
In 2020, because of COVID-19, only 500 goats were distributed. Another 800 goats will be given in the coming days, said Deshmukh.
While people in Akola, Sangli, Washim, Yavatmal and Amravati districts of Maharashtra have availed of this scheme, Deshmukh wants to do more. He wants to open branches of the bank in other states as well. “One may not gain as much by depositing a lakh of rupees in a bank. But if one bought goats with the same amount, it would yield better profits,” he said. If people showed real interest, Deshmukh is happy to offer training on how to start and run these goat banks.
“For setting up a goat bank, one requires three acres [1.21 hectares] of land with a shed for the goats and an area to grow and store fodder. People can also grow peepal and babool trees that provide shade in the summers. The leaves can be used as fodder,” he said.
The Goat Bank of Karkheda has entered into a contract with Mahila Arthik Vikas Mahamandal under the department of women and child development to provide goats to the women associated with it.