This profile was prepared when Pradip Sarmah was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Pradip Sarmah sees an enormous opportunity to introduce commercial breeding of chickens, pigs, cows and other animals to northeast India, the most "backward" region of the country. He is creating a service whereby veterinarians, who are underemployed, stimulate the rural economy by helping farmers increase livestock production, and earn themselves a living at the same time. The vets train "paravets," local counterparts who provide ongoing assistance to farmers. Combined, Pradip's carefully planned pricing scheme, knowledge of the market, expertise as a vet, and awareness of local culture overcome the many stumbling blocks which have foiled so many previous development programs. In fact, no one has made a serious effort to introduce animal husbandry to the northeast, and surprisingly few attempts have been made in the rest of India, apart from the enormous growth of the dairy industry, the "white revolution," which has yet to reach the northeast. Government programs have failed because they lacked the economic incentives and technical support systemscross-breeding, feed supply, immunization, marketingthat commercial husbandry requires. By using community microcredit groups ("self-help groups," in the parlance of rural development), Pradip builds participation and responsibility, and taps into a major trend in rural development.
Featured in Rippling: How Social Entrepreneurs Spread Innovation Throughout the World, by Bev Schwartz (2012)