The hydroponics pilot is a perfect example of the type of innovation Brooke is seeking to support, trialling a new and simple solution to an old problem. As well as providing opportunities for learning, it also helped Brooke India develop a technique that will enable them to support more equines and their owners in years to come.
In 2016 Brooke India was concerned that the availability of green fodder was very low and often too expensive for donkey owners to buy.
To try to address this, the team sought support from the Innovation Fund for a pilot hydroponics project with the aim of growing good quality green fodder sustainably throughout the year.
Two hundred families in the state of Maharashtra took part in the pilot. These families were unable to afford land on which to grow crops.
The hydroponics project enabled these families to grow green fodder in trays in a corner of their homes or small areas outside. The method is also cheap: 1kg of maize seeds produces approximately 8-10kgs of green fodder, with minimal watering.
This method of green fodder production is very easy... we will be buying our own maize seeds and will propagate this method in other areas as well. This system will remove the scarcity of green fodder for donkeys. I never thought my 10 donkeys would have such good quality green fodder in their lives!
What's happened since
Due to the success of this pilot, Brooke India has included training on hydroponics techniques in their yearly plan. They have also initiated the cultivation process with 1,000 donkey owning families from November 2018 to June 2019. This will ensure the availability of green fodder to around 8,000 donkeys in drought-prone areas of Maharashtra state.
The families taking part have been identified and they will move on to the training stage.