Animal Trade

Banni is home to indigenous breeds of livestock – the Kankrej cattle and the Banni buffalo, bred to perfection by the local pastoral community known as Maldharis based on their traditional livestock-keeping system of open grazing. They have, year after year, supplied well bred, sturdy Kankrej bullocks to farmers of Kachchh as well as Saurashtra region of Gujarat for draught purposes.

Soon after the monsoons, the Maldharis travel towards Saurashtra region with these well bred, well trained calves, to be sold to farmers. Smaller Maldharis who could not afford to travel themselves would sell their bullocks in Banni to others who were migrating. This bullock trade is an annual affair and involves some 100-150 traders, about 200 migrating herds, giving employment to approximately 1400 people for five months, involving a sale of up to 15,000 bullocks leading to a turnover of around Rs 12 to 15 crore. From Banni the Maldharis move towards Saurashtra/ Kathiawar regions. On the way they need places to camp, rest the cattle, graze it, etc. They halt at various junctures when the farmers from nearby villages come in and inspect the cattle in the morning and evening. Once a bullock is selected by a farmer, the deal gets sealed with a down payment of about Rs 100- Rs 300 and the negotiated price of the bullock is then paid to the Maldhari in 3 installments, an installment per year with no interest charged.  Though a business deal, the bullock trade has a very tender humanistic side to it, in the sense that a Maldhari’s primary concern is that the farmer should not lose a cultivation year and hence such a low down payment with installments spread across three years without any interest being charged. Also there are possibilities of adjustment of installments during bad years, exchange of bullocks if found unsatisfactory, reciprocation in the way of farmers offering Maldharis suckling calves at no charge, which could be raised in Banni and sold for draught purposes later.

Kankrej cattle was in a great demand and perhaps continues to be even today for a variety of reason. Firstly Kankrej cattle is adapted to the geo-climatic conditions of Kachchh, Saurashtra, and even Sindh region, hence of a great use in agriculture as well as for dairy purposes. The bullocks have great draught power, resilience in stress conditions and are blessed with the “Sawai chal” helping plough fields faster than other cattle breeds. The Kankrej cows yield good quantity of milk even under stress conditions. Farmers believe that a Kankrej bullock comes with a guarantee of sorts for a 15 to 20 years period.

Today, the bullock trade faces several challenges. Advent of tractors reducing demand of bullocks to plough the fields is one of them, thriving Prosopis Juliflora or Gando Baval and reduced numbers of cattle means procuring calves from within Banni has become difficult. A flourishing dairy business means that Maldharis try to send in as much milk into the dairies as possible, sometimes compromising the nutrition of suckling calves. Often fundamentalist groups harass Maldharis moving with cattle herds, accusing them of sending cattle to slaughter houses and confiscate animals from them. Maldharis have little protection from any of the above mentioned factors and the bullock trade has seen a clear decline.

If you are interested in purchasing animals from Banni, contact:

Name Contact Number
Sayana Hajigulu Halepotra +91-9427-51-39-85
Salemamad Fakirmamad Halepotra +91-9427-28-98-02
Salim Deshar Node +91-9427-43-08-93
Sabar Hajisahu Jat +91-9427-76-64-87