ACTNews, TASIKMALAYA – They started their morning with their best prayers and efforts, as their minds are fogged with a problem to solve. Such is the morning for dozens of livestock farmers in Community-Based Livestock Barn (LTM) in the Waqf Village of Cintabodas, Culamega Sub-district, Tasikmalaya Regency. It is only a few weeks before Eid-ul-Adha, and the livestock raisers need to face each challenge coming ahead of them.
They have to meticulously deal with every aspect to prepare the best livestock for the qurbani sacrifice, including the fodder. Around 2,500 sheep in LTM in Cintabodas are nourished with Dwaf Elephant grass on a daily basis.
What is the problem that they have to solve, as mentioned above? Preparing the Dwarf Elephant grass for the fodder is not easy lately, for the dry season has started and the rain hasn’t fallen for quite a long time, making it difficult for the grass to grow.
It is a problem that needs to be solved together. Each day, these livestock raisers need to think about where to get the dwarf elephant grass.
“As I remember, the last rain fell in CIntabodas only a few days after Eid-ul-Fitr, and it has been dry ever since. Almost all of the dwarf elephant grass in LTM Cintabodas has been harvested for the fodder. It takes a few weeks before it grows back and ready to be harvested again,” said Rosman, the coordinator of LTM in Cintabodas Waqf Village.
A challenge to find dwarf elephant grass amidst dryness
After a cup of coffee, equipped with sickle on their waist, the livestock raisers in Cintabodas started their day. In that morning, in the third week of July 2018, Olih Suharsa, one of the livestock raisers in LTM leaned against a bamboo pillar. After inhaling the fragrance of his coffee, he asked his fellow livestock raisers.
“What about the grass in Citomas? Have we harvested it?” asked Olih.
To answer this question, they needed to recount when the last time the grass in Citomas was harvested. Ideally, dwarf elephant grass can be harvested one every 35 days during rainy season. In dry season, it takes longer: around 40-50 days.
Rosman explained that the LTM manages around 12 hectares of field on which they plant dwarf elephant grass. During dry season, they need to find solutions to find more grass for the sheep.
“If the grass on a patch of field has been harvested, we have to wait more than a month before it can be harvested again,” said Rosman.
Rosman has calculated that it takes at least 210 sacks of grass each day to feed the sheep. Each sack weighs around 30 kilograms. In total, they need to prepare 6,300 kilograms of dwarf elephant grass each day, a gigantic amount to make sure the sheep are well-nourished.
“Providing enough fodder is essential. We can’t provide less than that to make sure that the sheep for Global Qurban are in the best condition and reach their desired weight,” Rosmad added.
That morning, after sipping the last drops of their coffee, the livestock raisers in LTM began to work. Some of them went to the sheep pen, some went to the grass processing facility, and others, including Suharsa, went to search for more dwarf elephant grass to be harvested.
There was a peculiar sight that morning. Many of these livestock raisers wore hats and hijabs that probably belong to their wives and daughters. Why did they wear hijabs? Suharsa said that the hijabs are used to protect their neck from the sap of the dwarf elephant grass. “If our necks were uncovered, contact with the sap of the dwarf elephant grass may cause itchiness that lasts for days,” he said while chuckling.
Local villagers help supplying the dwarf elephant grass
By motorcycles and a truck that belong to the Waqf Village, Suharsa and his fellow livestock raisers went to Citomas, a village located within the same sub-district, only separated by a hill from Cintabodas Village. Suharsa and his team hoped that there will be enough grass to be harvested that day.
Arriving on a hilly field, the path narrowed down. Suharsa and five of his crew began working. They breathed a sigh of relief because their prayers were answered: the dwarf elephant grass on that field was ready to be harvested.
“Alhamdulillah, there’s enough grass for today. We will buy it from the owner of the field for IDR 250 each kilogram,” said Suharsa.
By buying grass for local villagers, the livestock raisers empower the locals’ economy. During dry season, many villagers in Cintabodas’ neighboring village plant dwarf elephant grass on their fields. Dwarf elephant grass is easy to grow, even on soil with low fertility during dry season.
Suharsa added that, during dry season when dwarf elephant grass is getting scarce, there are people who called the LTM to tell that the dwarf elephant grass on their fields is ready to harvest.
“During dry season like this, we are extremely happy when someone calls to tell us that the dwarf elephant grass on his field is ready to harvest. Finally, we are able to feed the sheep in LTM for today,” said Suharsa.
In the afternoon, the grass that had just been harvested was brought to the fodder-processing facility. The facility was located on the side of the road, close to the LTM’s dwarf elephant grass field.
The grass was then fed into the processing machine to be cut into smaller pieces. The machine is able to process up to 25 kilograms of grass. The smaller pieces of grass make it easier for the sheep in LTM to eat.
It took quite a long time from looking for the dwarf elephant grass, harvesting and putting it to the sacks, to processing it into smaller pieces. Since early in the morning, the whole series of process finished adter Asr. Everybody was exhausted, all sweaty and itchy due to the sap of the dwarf elephant grass.
More than six tons of grass was carried to the sheep pens in LTM Cintabodas. It took three vehicles and several trips back and forth in an hour to carry 210 bags of grass. When the sun almost set, it was time to feed the animals.
Suharsa and other livestock raisers of LTM immediately pour the grass into the sheep pen. The bleat of the sheep soothed Suharsa’s mind. He always prays that there will be enough grass for his sheep every day during the dry season.
“Thousands of tons of dwarf elephant are harvested each day. It is a provision that Allah provides for the sheep of Global Qurban in LTM CIntabodas. It is a big trust for us to provide the best sheep for qurbani. Please pray for us that Allah keep us health and strong,” Suharsa hoped.