The Tractor Project Gets Wheels
It’s a common sight in Maharashtra during sugarcane season—bullocks panting and frothing at the mouth from straining to pull carts piled high with sugarcane. Their knees are swollen, and their necks and shoulders bear wounds that are a silent testimony to their daily toil under the yoke.
The bullocks who are forced to work on India’s sugarcane farms are commonly denied proper food, fresh drinking water, sufficient rest, and relief from the blazing-hot sun. They are yanked roughly by wires threaded through their pierced noses and are often beaten or whipped. Strands of barbed wire are sometimes put under the wooden yoke, and a thin piece of leather is attached to the whip to make it sting even more.
PETA’s friends at Animal Rahat, which offers relief for India’s working animals, are improving conditions for these bullocks. For years, Animal Rahat has provided bullocks with medical attention, persuaded owners to let sick and injured animals rest, and replaced painful nose ropes with harnesses. But Animal Rahat’s groundbreaking new initiative, “The Tractor Project,” is a way to eliminate the use of bullocks completely and replace them with small tractors. It’s the start of a terrific plan that could eventually relieve untold suffering.
Sugarcane farms are largely staffed by migrant workers who live on the factory land for six to seven months of the year, harvesting and hauling. These poor farmers cannot afford to buy a motorized vehicle to haul the cane, but The Tractor Project is changing that. Animal Rahat made a donation toward the purchase of five new tractors for workers at the Kranti Sugar Factory. The factory then gave the employees an interest-free loan for the rest of the cost.
Last week, the first five owners were presented with their new tractors, and their 10 old, worn-out bullocks were released from servitude in a touching ceremony at the factory. When the bullocks arrived at Animal Rahat’s Retired Bullock Home later that same day, caretakers removed their nose ropes and offered the relieved animals jaggery, a sweet treat that they love, to welcome them.
Animal Rahat and the Kranti Sugar Factory plan to distribute more tractors as they find the funds to do so. And Animal Rahat is preparing to expand The Tractor Project to other areas if possible. Each sugarcane factory uses about 1,200 working bullocks, so it will be no small task. But Animal Rahat is dedicated to ending the suffering of bullocks.
To contribute to Animal Rahat’s overall efforts—which fund new initiatives, including The Tractor Project—visit Animal Rahat’s fundraising page.
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