Jersey Cows to Transform Tens of Thousands More Lives in Rwanda
A new development programme designed to transform Rwanda’s dairy industry was announced today (Monday 9th January 2017) by Jersey Overseas Aid in partnership with the RJA&HA, with Jersey cows the centrepiece of the scheme.
The two-year project will be funded by Jersey Overseas Aid (JOA), and implemented by the Royal Jersey Agriculture and Horticulture Society (RJA&HS), in partnership with the charity Send a Cow. It was formally launched at a meeting on Monday afternoon with a delegation from Rwanda, including Finance Minister Claver Gatete and the Rwandan Director General of Animal Resources, Dr. Théogène Rutagwenda.
In addition to transferring thousands of straws of Jersey bull semen, the project will train and equip 200 Artificial Insemination technicians, create a digital database for Rwanda’s dairy herd, and assist at least 12,000 smallholder dairy farmers with improved breeding and feeding techniques. By 2018 it will lead to almost 200,000 cows being inseminated annually, and the distribution of tens of thousands of improved animals to needy families.
The project is so large and wide-ranging that it will have also an appreciable impact on national milk production, boosting Rwanda’s efforts to develop its economy. Rwanda is still ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world, despite making remarkable progress in recovering from the devastating genocide in 1994, in which over a fifth of the population were murdered.
The project builds on existing cooperation between Jersey and Rwanda in dairy cow improvement, which began in 2005 and which has already led to the famous Jersey breed becoming widely known and highly valued in the landlocked African country. Jersey crosses produce up to eight times more milk than the native Ankole longhorns, and also require less feed.
Carolyn Labey, Chair of JOA, said ‘The Jersey cow is already serving as a wonderful ambassador for our island, thanks to previous work by JOA and the RJA&HS. As a result of this new two-year project, tens of thousands more families in Rwanda will benefit from owning an improved dairy cow, with higher yields and more nutritious milk. This is sustainable development at its best, and people in Jersey should be enormously proud of the fact that we are making a permanent improvement to the quality of an entire nation’s dairy herd, and in so doing assisting many people out of poverty with better nutrition and onto better lives.’
Ian Mitchell, President of RJA&HS, said ‘As guardians of the breed in its island home, we are delighted that Rwanda is embracing the qualities of the Jersey cow. The high yields and high quality of the milk will assist Rwanda with the development of a world-class dairy industry, as well as benefitting thousands of poor farmers and their families.’