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August 16, 2022
Poultry & Livestock Review Africa
Livestock News

Jersey cows helping Rwandan widows rebuild their lives

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.

Libertha Uwantege
Libertha Uwantege has used her success from the Jersey cow to help othersCredit: ITV Channel

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.

Rwanda widows
The killings left behind 50,000 widows, propelling thousands of women to head of the household.Credit: ITN Productions

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.

David Hambrook
David Hambrook.Credit: ITV Channel

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.

Tom Perchard
Dairy Farmer, Tom Perchard, told ITV News he is proud to be part of such a rewarding projectCredit: ITV Channel

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.

Clarisse Nyinawumuntu
Clarisse Nyinawumuntu said she felt “empowered” by having agency in her work.Credit: ITV Channel
Jeanette Kanyange
Many of the women have seen a vast improvement to their quality of life through the Jersey cow.Credit: ITV Channel

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