In November, volunteer Diego Calderon discussed skills to improve the overall health of rudimentary livestock with students of the Bougouni Farmers’ Cooperative and Agro-Pastoral Training Center of Bougouni. During the training, students expressed the knowledge and interest to take steps toward agricultural entrepreneurship.
Calderon’s first training took place for three days with Bougouni Farmers’ Cooperative (BFC) students, including a local veterinarian. After initial exercises about goal setting and projections, the topics shifted from basic concepts to marketing, business management and planning to increase the profitability of the animal product.
The second training was with 4th-year-students at the Institute Agro-Pastoral Training Center of Bougouni with three of the institute’s teachers. Similar to the BFC students, livestock disease detection, treatment and control, feeding strategies and cost and animal management were primary topics.
“Now I am fully confident to start my own small ruminant fattening successfully,” said Aminata Diallo, a fourth year student.
During the last day of training, Amadou Traoré, an advisor for the Education Authority at the Pedagogical Training Center of Bougouni, complimented the training as an extraordinary experience for not only students but animal producers and entrepreneurs.
“I heard about F2F Program (Farmer-to-Farmer) but I do not imagine that you are providing such a good quality of training, I am really impressed,” said Traoré.
With the help of Mr. Kassambara, a translator and teaching partner during the training, Calderon learned more about local livestock by visiting markets in Bamako, Bougouni and Sikasso. The markets provide insight to the breeds, prices, feed and production of the livestock to create accurate training for the students.
The importance of intact rams at the markets was apparent, especially those with Bali-Bali blood. The Bali-Bali ram is native to Western Africa with white hair, twisted horns and bodies built for the heat of the desert.
Calderon is hoping to have a follow-up direction and training in March before the Tabaski feast at the end of July. Tabaski, otherwise known as the ‘Feast of Sacrifice’, is a Muslim holiday that honors Ibrahim’s sacrifice of his son to Allah. His son was replaced by a ram as a ‘great sacrifice’ after the approval of Ibrahim’s devotion. The event is re-enacted by Muslim families by sacrificing a cow or ram, providing a feast to their family and friends.
This holiday means that the prices of livestock dramatically increase as the head of the family feels the pressure to provide. Calderon believes students will have an opportunity to raise their livestock and participate in a plentiful market, especially with Bali-Bali. With additional training and contribution to Tabaski, students will be allowed to have experience that leverages their ability to be successful in the livestock market.
By Erin Thomson