Pawanda/Kuchis Need Policy Level Support.

Pawanda are the custodian of the world’s very precious livestock breeds, mainly comprised of sheep, goat, camel, donkey and chickens. They travel along with their livestock back and forth the Suleiman Piedmont &Indus delta (Pakistan) in winter and central highlands of Afghanistan in summer.

Recently, came to know a post about the Dutch Committee for Afghanistan’s project on the skill development in animal health of the Kuchis in Afghanistan. Ellen Geerlings, a friend and known to me since last decade told me about the good work done with the Kuchis. I responded to the post with some insight I have about the issue. Here in the following lines, are the comments and replies of me and Ellen. I share for a positive debate and highlighting the issues and miseries of the Kochis both in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

According to Ellen, the project covers the following objectives.

CLAP project started in 2014 in three provinces; Kabul, Logar and Parwan. The project will cover four new provinces including Balkh, Nangarhar, Baghlan and Herat. The project will also cover the main migration routes by training Kuchi veterinary para professionals, these will accompany the Kuchi and their herds on their migration route and provide animal health care services.

Author’s Response

Dear Ellen Geerlings and Daud, I’m basically from Kuchi Afghan tribes. Kuchis are settled both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Our fore-forefather travel with their livestock into the central highlands of Afghanistan (Nawar) and back to the Suleiman Piedmont in winter. Some long traveling kuchis (in Pashtu we call PAWANDA) even travel to Sindh and Punjab provinces of Pakistan in winter. Kuchis or Pawanda are very excellent livestock keepers. They travel on their historical routes. They understand animal health, husbandry, value-added products, marketing, and the geographical and weathering understanding of the region. I have learned a lot from them in my lifetime. In my view, the Kuchis need little help in animal health (except vaccination), product development, and feeding of their livestock. The products made by the Kuchis are highly demanded by the consumers, ranging from Ghuarri (ghee) to Korath (curth/curd) and the sheep meat to the wool products. They still earn enough money from their livestock. Here I come to the main and important point. Their main problem is their zero presence at the policy making table. They are never heard when policies are made for them. They need policy-level support.

Camel Caravan of Afghan nomads in Musakhel Balochistan.

Ellen Response

Dear Prof Kakar, Thank you for your valuable insights. I remember you are from the Kuchi community yourself. I do think the project is contributing to the well-being and resilience of the Kuchi as it is targeted to the most marginalised families within the Kuchi community. The paravets are placed in areas where animal healthcare services are lacking. These paravets receive a 6 month training and will return to their own communities where they are known and respected. They use high quality vaccins as opposed to the vaccines available in markets which are often overdate, diluted and/or of very low quality. You do have a very good point however; (more) policy level support is needed. This is not only the case in Afghanistan but in a wide range of other areas as well. I remember the Raika nomads in Rajasthan frequently being disadvantaged by agricultural policies resulting in their grazing areas being encroached upon, migration routes being blocked, increased tension between farmers and nomads and decreasing water availability due to indiscriminate drilling of water wells by farmers. The CLAP project has a policy support component and a Kuchi board that has advised the project. But policy development is a very slow process.

Author’s Reply

Ellen Geerlings Thanks for the detailed reply. I appreciate the great objectives and achievements of the project. My previous response was not completed because of the limited space in the LinkedIn comments tab. Policy level support is very important and their prospects at the policy level must be taken into account. Their main problem is now the restrictions in their movements both in Afghanistan and Pakistan and also on the Durand line which we Pashtun call it bad line (dividing us). They also need support in finding marketing opportunities at a global level to have enough money for sustaining this great and historic animal husbandry. I personally, introduced some products from our traditional livestock systems in the slow food event in Turin Italy. The people showed very great interest in the products. We have very special and tasty Curd/Korath, Rozgani and Kakari. Our sheep meat is special, unique taste and aroma. We dry it and the product name is PERSENDA/Landi. The ark of taste appreciated the texture, taste, and aroma. you can read about the dry meat and can use the link as a reference. Very best regards and thanks for your patience.

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