MYAGDI, Oct 18: Two community schools of Myagdi have jointly invested in Yak husbandry as an income source. These schools have been rearing Yaks in Annapurna Rural Municipality-5, Khayar Baraha. By selling fresh yak blood and meat these schools have been paying the salaries of teachers, repairing the infrastructures of the schools, buying educational materials for students and investing in various educational programs.
With the aim of creating sustainable source of school's internal income, Paudwar Secondary School (PSS) and Himanchal Higher Secondary School (HHSS), of the same rural municipality, had resorted to Yak husbandry a decade ago. According to Bhim Prasad Tilija, chairperson of PSS's school management committee, Yak's were brought from Manang.
“In the beginning, we had to bear great loss but after struggling for few years we started to make some profit," he said adding that July and February are the most appropriate month for the business. The money collected by selling meat and raw blood is proportionately divided between the two schools, he informed.
These schools have been raising around 168 yaks and from it they earn around a million rupees annually. Two farmers have been entrusted with the responsibility of taking care of these yaks. In return, they are paid a monthly salary of Rs. 12,000 and are also provided with clothes, food and weapons to protect themselves from wild animal attacks.
Lack of manpower, poor infrastructures among others had deteriorated the quality education at these schools and consequently, number of students attending the schools had significantly dropped. In 1996, Magsaysay Award winner Mahabir Pun suggested these schools to adopt yak husbandry to secure sustainable income source and upgrade the quality of the education they provide.
“We have been able to solve a lot of our financial and infrastructural problems," said Raman Pun, principal of HHSS. People from various districts who rely on Ayurvedic medicines come to them for the blood and milk of yak.
As yaks graze on various medicinal herbs and plants like Yarshagumba, Nirmasi among others their blood is believed to contain nutrients and medicinal properties that are found in those herbs. A large number of people buy fresh blood of yak as it is said to be effective in curing ailments related to digestion, nerves and bones.
It is possible to get around 20-65 glasses of blood from a single yak. Farmers charge Rs.100 per glass of blood. Besides, medicinal importance, yak husbandry has been also been successful in attracting tourists to the district. Apart from the advantages, there are some risks involved in the business. In the recent year's leopard attacks on the yaks have been frequent.
In order to protect yaks from leopards, the joint committee of the schools has built safe sheds and deployed two farmers for guarding the cattle's. Their sheds are often changed, informed Suk Bahadur Pun, one of the guards.
Both of these schools are also running cheese factory, community lodge, and potato farms along with a fish farm.