Thursday 30 June 2011

Spin a web, catch a chicken!

P6290104I had a trip to nearby Koraput with Mr P yesterday to meet with fellow VSO volunteer Gina who is working with us on the Shakti website project. I did the existing website last year just to explore possibilities and to stimulate the thought process about what is required of a website for Shakti, but I am not a designer or programmer. So we have enlisted the assistance of Communication Specialist Gina to help us redesign our site. This was our first meeting to discuss how the project would work, review requirements and plan timelines.
Our 3 1/2 – 4 hr trip to koraput began later than our intended 6AM start as Mr P had been out at Kasipur block for the past 2 days, got back late the previous night after a very wet drive. Consequently Kishan our driver had to wash down the 4x4 vehicle prior to setting off. This is not a cosmetic exercise, but a safety one as the wheels were caked in thick reddish claying mud. A couple of years back a 4x4 hired by Shakti was overturned after slipping and sliding in the rainy season mud – thankfully no one was injured but retrieving the vehicle from such a remote area was a logistical nightmare!
Our drive to Koraput was uneventful except for our pit stop for breakfast which was a fast eat of bura – a deep fried dough made from 75-80% black gram flour and 20-25% ground rice flour, plus seasoning and spices dependent on the establishment – it is one of the few Indian breakfast dishes I like. These were the best bura I have ever tasted! Freshly made for us, hot out of the wok, tasty but not too chilli spicy.
The road itself is in the process of being rebuilt – actually it is not nearly as bad as the Rayagada – Vizag road, but it is regularly closed and impassable in the rainy season. This happens at one spot where the road crosses a river. The old bridge is actually only about 2 years old, but shoddy workmanship, corruption resulting in the use of poor quality materials has meant it is already broken and unusable. The new bridge construction is underway but seems to be stalled. The route across is one of those concrete ford driveways. It was dry when we crossed but I can see why the road gets closed so often.
A trip to Koraput is always welcome. It is a good opportunity for an exchange of unobtainables - for me she and Corey had supplies of tuna, pasta and muesli from Amar’s shop, and I brought barley from Rayagada, which surprisingly they have never been able to get in Koraput. Also Koraput is some 2000ft higher than Rayagada and consequently consistently about 8 C cooler than here. It was a lovely cool day - I'm definitely acclimatising when 28-30C seems cool! 
After lunch we drove off to the Poultry Farm at Sunabeda. This is way off road, along dirt tracks of deep rich rust coloured earth into the Koraput Hills. Termite mounds everywhere. bright acid greens of rice planting. A very colourful landscape. Cool and wet and accordingly lush!
P6290094      P6290093  P6290103
Our reason for going there was to make arrangements to buy 2000 chicks at the end of July for one of our livelihoods projects in Kashipur block.  I was delighted to get the opportunity to see round the place and was pleasantly surprised – good conditions, clean, strict adherence to disease control mechanisms ( we had to dip feet into every  building). The breeding birds and chicks are kept in separate buildings, with the chicks being separated according to age – 4 day old 7 and 9 day old chicks were there during our visit. They were in clean conditions, lots of space, ready supply of feed and water. We also saw the egg  incubator. I went away optimistic that the chicks delivered would becoming from goo healthy stock, be themselves healthy and well nourished and provide our project beneficiaries with a good starting supply of chicken for breeding, for eggs and for meat. People like to buy these “country” chicken varieties which are considered more tasty.
P6290102A chick costs around 17 Rupees, plus about 2 rupees for transport. feeding is locally available and at little cost. After 2 months at about 2Kg weight  the chickens can be sold for meat which retails here at between 170-200 Rupees per Kg, a bit more than the 140 Rps I pay for the standard chicken bred. A nice little earner for the Kasipur women.


  1. Sounds like the roads have not changed much since I left. I'd love to go back to see what has changed. It's good to see that good animal husbandry is being taken seriously, it's all too easy to introduce disease into flocks of birds and other livestock.

  2. It really feels good to find out that some people treat animals nicely. I am so glad that these chicks are kept in a hygienic environment because most places do not care about the hygiene which makes is bad for both the chickens and the people.