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3. Livelihoods

Strengthening livelihoods plays a crucial role in maintaining pastoralism as a viable way of living. We recognise the importance of encouraging partnerships between pastoralists and NGOs, the government, research institutes, and entrepreneurs to facilitate the marketing of pastoral products such as milk, milk by-products and wool. We also work with pastoral communities to claim legal access to traditional grazing land, a critical component of sustaining livelihoods and pastoralism as a way of life.

Pastoralists survive through the sale of animals (to cultivators, dairies, meat markets) and animal products (milk, wool) and services (dung) within both mainstream and informal markets. However, the mechanisation of agriculture, loss of grazing grounds, limited or reduced procurement of milk and wool and the bovine politics in India have disrupted many traditional livelihood practices. Sahjeevan’s livelihood-related work is centred around enhancing milk-based livelihoods and the sale of wool, and securing tenure over traditional grazing lands.

We believe milk-based revenue streams have thus far failed to encourage pastoralist lifestyles due to a lack of state and private investments in technology, design infrastructure and local capacities. We also believe there is a unique opportunity to tap into niche markets with an interest in milk and milk by-products derived from free-ranging animal populations (cows, buffaloes, goats, sheep, camels, yaks) over varied geographies.

Sahjeevan’s work on wool is premised on the fact that the bulk of the wool produced in Gujarat is coarse and that there is a need to invest in technologies to soften such wool. With the right technological innovation, such wool can find use in a wide variety of insulation-demanding industries.

Pastoral communities also experience continuing challenges to access traditionally grazed lands which =hinders their livelihood opportunities. In reponse to such challenges, we facilitate claim-filing processes under the Forest Rights Act, 2006.