The Jersey cow is helping to transform the lives of women in Rwanda, according to farmers in the country who have benefited from the breed.
It comes five years after an official cross-breeding programme was launched in 2016 by Jersey Overseas Aid in collaboration with The Royal Jersey Horticultural & Agricultural Society (RJHAS) along with Send a Cow, a charity that supports smallholder farmers in Africa.
Since the project started more than half a million straws of Jersey Cow semen has been sent to Rwanda. By using the brown cows unique gene pool, farmers in the African country have turned poverty into profit.
In 1994 an estimated 800,000 people from the Tutsi minority were murdered in the Rwandan genocide. The killings left behind 50,000 widows, propelling thousands of women to head of the household.
Some years after the genocide the RJAHS inherited 300,000 straws of cow’s semen from the island’s government, according to head of international dairy development at RJAHS, David Hambrook.
He suggested the Jersey cows successful milk-yielding characteristics, including a high nutritional value, ease of calving, and an ability to adapt to extreme climates, could help to rebuild Rwanda’s dairy industry.
The project is something Dairy Farmer, Tom Perchard, is ‘thrilled’ to be a part of. He hopes the scheme can continue into the future and help to develop farmers in the African continent.
With the extra money the Jersey cattle brings in, farmers in Rwanda are now able to live comfortably and provide for their family.
Many of the women say they have seen a vast improvement to their quality of life through the Jersey cow.