The Tale of Goats and Solar Pumps: A New Currency for a New World

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Published on
June 28, 2023

TED Fellow and alternative currency enthusiast Fariel Salahuddin talks about a fascinating story that happened in a small village in Pakistan, called Pathan Goth. This place was so remote that it didn't have basic facilities like water and electricity. The villagers had to bring water from Karachi, which was two hours away. This made water so costly that they couldn't afford to give it to their livestock every day. Even bathing and laundry were considered luxuries.

The solution to their water woes was a solar water pump, a device that could provide them with a steady supply of water. But there was a catch. The pump cost a whopping $10,000, an astronomical amount for a community where the average household income was a mere $70 a month.

As Fariel, a visitor to the village, pondered this problem, a herd of over 100 goats sauntered past. An idea sparked in her mind. What if the villagers could pay for the pump with goats instead of cash? She proposed this unconventional idea to the village elder, who agreed. And just like that, Pathan Goth got its pump, and Fariel became the proud owner of 40 goats.

A few months later, during the Muslim festival of Eid, the demand for goats surged, and their prices skyrocketed. Seeing an opportunity, Fariel decided to sell her goats on Facebook. Within a week, all her goats were sold, and she had not only recovered the cost of the pump but also made a profit.

This unique experience led Fariel to question the traditional concept of money and its evolution. In ancient Mesopotamia, around 2500 BC, people used barley as a form of currency. But as trade expanded beyond one village, money needed to be easy to convert and transport, leading to the advent of coins and paper money. However, these forms of money only held value when validated by an external authority, such as a government or a central bank.

Fast forward to the present day, and technology has revolutionized the concept of money. Blockchain technology allows the value of any asset to be transferred from one person to another, bypassing the need for a central authority. Any asset can now be digitized, tokenized, and traded. This technology has the potential to disrupt and democratize economic power, especially in rural economies, by eliminating the need for expensive intermediaries.

In rural communities, farmers often use their livestock as a form of savings. They sell an animal when they need cash, such as to buy fodder for the rest of the herd, groceries for their home, or to cover the costs of weddings and health emergencies. But until now, they haven't been able to use their livestock to buy larger, more productive assets.

Now, thanks to Fariel's innovative idea, farmers can convert 15 goats into a solar water pump. They no longer have to rely on NGOs, charities, or the government to provide them with what they need. They can use their own resources to fulfill their needs, fostering a sense of self-reliance.

So, how does this goat-for-goods system work? When a farmer wants to buy a solar installation, they give their goats to Fariel's team. The team then sells the goats to grocery chains. Each goat is recorded with a unique ID and its key characteristics, such as its sex, age, weight, and number of teeth. These details are used to assign each goat a dollar or rupee value, effectively turning a goat into a digital token.

This innovative system has already helped over 6,000 farmers in 45 communities convert their goats into water and electricity. The plan is to expand this to include smartphones, tractors, and other equipment. The ultimate goal is to create a moreinclusive economic system where any person or community can use what they grow and raise as money.

Imagine a world where a farmer, no matter where they are, can use a digitized goat to pay for their child's school fees, a tractor, or a smartphone. This is not just about creating a new form of currency; it's about empowering people, giving them control over their resources, and fostering self-reliance.

This story is not just about goats and solar pumps. It's about the evolution of money and how technology is reshaping our understanding of value and exchange. It's about how a simple, everyday creature like a goat can become a symbol of economic freedom and empowerment.

Fariel's story is a testament to human ingenuity and the power of thinking outside the box. It's a story of how a simple idea can bring about significant change and improve the lives of many. It's a story that challenges our conventional understanding of money and presents a new perspective on currency that promotes self-reliance and creates a more inclusive economy.

The future where a farmer can use a digitized goat to pay for essential goods and services isn't quite here yet, but we're getting closer. And it all started with a herd of goats in a small village in Pakistan. This is the power of innovative thinking. This is the power of change. And this is the power of goats.

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