The wedding industry may have been a little ‘stop-start’ over the past 18 months, but it has given local wedding florists Corky and Prince an opportunity to focus on their partnership with their friends at the Chaithanya Organisation in India. Following on from their Custard Apple tree plantation initiative last year, Fi and Al Passey spent the last few months planning the Cow For Now project.
Through the project, indigenous cattle breeds are being re-introduced into local life by providing cows for widows in rural villages. Recent years have seen crossbred cattle being used by farmers due to their increased milk yields.
However, they are prone to disease and can be expensive to maintain due to the antibiotics required. Indigenous cattle, in contrast, thrive in the arid conditions and, although the milk yield isn’t as good, it does give the widow and her family valuable additional income and an asset – the first rung on the ladder out of poverty.
Each recipient of a Cow For Now signs an agreement to care for the animal and attend farming education meetings and group discussions. Any female calves born are given back to the Chaithanya Organisation, so they can be gifted to other families in need.
And it’s not just milk that provides an income, the cow dung is used for fuel and fertiliser and urine as a natural pesticide. The indigenous cow is low maintenance and will graze on hedgerows whilst the owner works in the fields.
“This is a project close to my heart as I have seen at first-hand how such an apparently simple idea can help change lives,” says Fi, who spent time as a volunteer with the Chaithanya team in 2008 as part of her grown-up gap year.
The aim is to provide 50 cows over the next 5 years, which will have a significant impact on the lives of single women in three neighbouring villages.
Fi added: “India is in a dark place at the moment with their Covid challenges on top of the poverty that exists particularly in the countryside. All anyone can do is to try to help as best we can.”