It’s amazing how a little foresight and the courage to step off track can make a lot of difference to a person’s life; and even more amazing is how this impacts an individual and the society.
Dr. Salma Sultana graduated from the Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Sciences University in 2012. Instead of pursuing a post-graduation in this field as her peers usually do, she took a job as a veterinary office at the Community Based Dairy Veterinary Foundation under Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU).
Working at the field level, she soon discovered that due to a shortage of trained vets, farmers are having to resort to quacks, who have little training and hence are the main reason behind widespread misuse of antibiotics. This in turn has led to frequent death of livestock and monetary loss for farmers.
She also realized that if educated, unemployed youth could be trained in this field, it could not only reduce monetary losses for farmers, but more importantly, create employment.
In 2015, she founded Model Livestock Advancement Foundation in Demra near Dhaka. The organization had several aims: develop skilled veterinary manpower by training educated youth, make farmers aware, and promote sustainable employment and entrepreneurship.
The organization is currently offering certificate training on animal health and production, and poultry farming; short courses on animal production and health management, dairy farm management, poultry hatchery management, artificial reproduction of livestock, and fish farming. In addition, they also provide need-based training on cattle fattening and making dairy products and run a veterinary hospital with surgery, vaccination and diagnostic facilities at very affordable prices. Their social welfare based activities include awareness building among farmers, empowerment of women, etc.
Model Livestock Advancement Foundation won the Joy Bangla Youth Award in 2017 for their contribution in Youth Training and Development under the Community Development category.
According to Dr Salma Sultana, their biggest achievements are generating employment for educated youth and making farmers aware of safe methods of livestock farming.
“Sheikh Hasina, prime minister of Bangladesh, and Begum Rokeya, pioneer of women’s liberation in Bangladesh, are our biggest inspirations,” Salma said.
Currently, the organization is run by an 8-member council of directors who supervise the work of 22 executive members. The number of beneficiaries now stands at 300.
Lack of funding is their biggest challenge. Currently, their main source of funding is the income generated from training, veterinary and diagnostic services. However, since most of their clients are low-income farmers and unemployed youth, that income has never been quite enough to pursue meaningful expansion.
The organization now looks forward to using the network of Young Bangla to spread digital veterinary methods to encourage youth to join this field as trained professionals.