In Rwanda, Livestock plays a key role in achieving food security, especially in terms of the protein requirements and it also plays a potential role in poverty alleviation and is seen as a key pillar for economic growth.
Despite such a huge importance, Livestock has undergone many challenges such as lack of feeds. In a bid to solve the fodder shortages for livestock farmers, the National Fund for Environment (FONERWA) initiated Greening Girinka Project. The project implemented by Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board and Send Cow since 2019.
The Greening Girinka project introduced environmental concerns into crop and livestock development practices in Rwanda. It identifies and test climate smart approaches and new technologies for small crop and livestock farmers who are beneficiaries of the Girinka (One Cow per Poor Family) programme.
Throughout the three years, the theoretical and practical skills such as forage establishment, forage conservation (Silage and Hay), feeding balanced diets to dairy cows, among other skills were taught to farmers.
In Ngoma and Bugesera district in Eastern Province of Rwanda, climate-smart technologies and techniques for improved livestock development and soil fertility of smallholder crop-livestock systems are adopted and used in Agriculture by 480 vulnerable households.
Nzabonankira Emmanuel is a farmer in Mugesera Sector,Ngoma District; he and his fellows beneficiaries of Greening Girinka Project grow nutritious grass species such as Chloris gayana and Penicum, Mucuna, Brachiaria…rich in protein for cows.
Nzaboanankira narrates that whenever the dry spell comes getting fodders for the animals was a big challenge but since the arrival of Greening Girinka Project, he is a proudly famer.
“Previously, several farmers used to lose cattle to drought and milk production greatly dipped due to the dry season which could affect pasture in our sector, in turn this also affect farmers income.”- he said.
“But after working with Greening GIRINKA, we have plenty of grasses to feed cows and even during the drought, our cows are now milkier ,” he added.
More families in Bugesera District have got a shot in the arm to improve their living standards, thanks to support of Greening Girinka Project.
Venantie Niragire is breeder in Nyarugenge Sector, Bugesera District, she benefited from the project -says that the support she got from RAB and Send Cow helped her to boost milk production and fight malnutrition.
“There is nothing better than seeing the Government willing to come to our help, I was given a cow in Girinka Programme but it was about to die due to the lack of feeds”- she said.
“But,since Greening Girinka through RAB and Send Cow came to our sector we learnt to cultivate forages, silage and hay making...; the outcome is clear for everyone to see:milk production has increased; I have enough home-consuming milk and the remaining to sell to the MCC; I assure that our Sector is now malnutrition free.”- she added.
Putting farmer promotors at the center of project Greening implementation since 2019, the project introduced new cow shed model in community to inspire farmers in community to build shed model that allow freedom to animal so far; fodder multiplication plots and different climate smart techniques for fodder establishment that taught to farmers are key sources of availability of drought resilient fodder species for planting to farmers in their respective community and other farmers from outside of project community;
And increment in milk production due to use of different drought resilient fodder species introduced in the community. Farmers started to sell milk at Milk collection points as way to gain income among other achievements.