Can livestock change a life?

For Madam Assibi, two goats and a sheep was all it took.

Livestock: Madam Assibi with her goats

Madam Assibi started with just two goats and a sheep.

What difference does a goat or sheep make for a family? Just ask Madam Assibi.

Madam Assibi Akanpie lives in Yebongo, a community in the Bolgatanga Municipality in the Upper East Region of Ghana. Bolgatanga is famous for its beautiful hand-woven baskets, and Madam Assibi is a proud basket weaver herself. For a long time, it was her main source of income. But on its own, her basket weaving income wasn’t enough to provide for her six children.

“I was not able to get enough money to cater for their basic school needs,” she remembers. “I struggled to buy them books and with paying their school fees.”

Feeding her children nutritious food, especially during the dry season, was also a problem. She worried about their health.

With her children’s future in the balance, Madam Assibi needed a new way to provide for her family. She decided to try out a livestock program that she’d heard about in her community.

Raising healthy livestock

Madam Assibi joined the small ruminants (livestock) program run by CFTC partner TradeAID. She received two goats and one sheep and completed training on their housing, diet and veterinary care.

As Madam Assibi took us on a tour of her family farm, it was obvious that she takes great pride in caring for her animals. She walked us through the ways she keeps them healthy, including building them a spacious, airy pen that she keeps spotlessly clean. It’s a comfortable home for her animals, and the ventilation and cleanliness reduces the chances of the animals catching illnesses. She takes other important steps for their health as well.

“I vaccinated my animals using a professional veterinary officer,” she told us. “I inspect my animals regularly and report to the veterinary officer if I detect any sign of ill health.”

Day to day, she makes sure that they are fed appropriately in all seasons. During the dry season when the grazing grasses dry up, she supplements their diet with feed like groundnut and bean vines. The result? Healthy animals – and a healthy family.

A family transformed

Livestock: Madam Assibi with her goats

Madam Assibi’s goats and sheep are providing a sustainable income for her family.

As Madam Assibi’s goats and sheep grew and multiplied, so did the opportunities for herself and her children.

After a few months, Madam Assibi successfully bred her animals and sold a few for profit. With the money she earned, she was finally able to put enough good food on the table for her children.

“Through small ruminants [livestock] rearing, I have been able to feed my children with nutritious meals throughout the year. This has enhanced their health.”

Healthy and well-fed, her children now attend school regularly. She says that her profits have covered the costs of school fees, books and other school supplies “with ease.”

Growing her business

Madam Assibi is proud of the technical expertise she’s gained through her new livelihood. Her goats and sheep now serve as the assets she needs to access credit and grow her business, and she feels empowered to take the next steps.

Her plans include increasing her herd and selling more livestock. She’s also keeping abreast of improved animal rearing techniques and paying close attention to the market.

“If I sell some of the animals, I will use the proceeds to provide for my children’s [future] education needs,” she told us. “I will also renew the health insurance for me and my children.”

She hasn’t forgotten her first love. She is now buying straw and dyes for basket weaving to supplement her income.

As Madam Assibi reflects on her thriving children and growing business, she’s thankful for the opportunities she was given – all because of two goats and a sheep.

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