By Elias Hakizimana
About 6,000 improved breed cows will be distributed among poor families, while thousands of others received artificial insemination in line with increasing milk yield and cow productivity under the six-year $65.1 million Rwanda Dairy Development Project launched late 2017.
In the two first years of the project, 6000 crossbred cattle will be distributed to Poor families based on the home grown solution program famously known as Girinka program (One cow per poor family). So far, over 646 cows have been distributed, according to recently available information from International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD).
In Artificial Insemination (AI) activities, the project trains AI Technicians under 12 districts of the country it is working from including Nyagatare, Kayonza and Rwamagana in Eastern Province; Ruhango, Huye and Nyanza in Southern Province; Burera, Musanze and Gicumbi in Northern Province plus Rutsiro, Rubavu and Nyabihu in Western Province).
So far, a number of AI Technicians from twelve districts of Rwanda were trained on artificial insemination to help farmers improve on their cow breed.
According to Joseph Nshokeyinka, RDDP Animal Production and Genetics Specialist, during the fiscal year 2017/18, under the districts’ performance contracts, 47,599 cows were expected to be inseminated and this target was met.
“By the end of May, we had already 47,895 cows inseminated under this target. To date, among the twelve districts under the project, RDDP helped districts to buy bovine semen to achieve their target of 47,599 cows with artificial insemination.
“We managed to buy bovine semen to these districts [with capacity to inseminate] to the number of 53,529 cows in total bovine semen doses,” said Nshokeyinka.
He said that for Fiscal Year 2017-2018 they had a plan to train 80 AI technicians and give them equipment to enable them to effectively serve the dairy farmers.
“We trained 107 AI technicians and our budget recognized 85 of them to be given AI kits to support their capacity towards increasing milk production. We believe others will also get AI kits in next six months,” he explained.
The trained AI technicians include government employees in charge of Animal Resources Development at sector level (Sector Animal Resources Officers) and others from private sector. Among the 107 AI technicians trained, 46 are technicians at the sector level, 40 males and 6 females. The private sector has 61 among the 107 trained, 52 males and 9 females.
The number of women in this profession is still low but Nshokeyinka said they will be motivated to join it too.
Trained AI technicians will be followed up where they work on fields to ensure they offer good services according to Nshokeyinka.
On veterinary skills development aspect, RDDP partners with the Rwanda Rwanda Council Of Veterinary Doctors (RCVD) to achieve desired results.
Dr Claire Tumushabe, RCVD Vice Chairperson said “We all know the role of livestock development in the country, it is in this regard we are training professional veterinary doctors to help farmers improve cow breeds and increase milk production.
Tumushabe urged trained AI technicians to offer good services in their respective working places in sectors.
Trained AI technicians were also given materials to help them reach farmers and provide them quality services.
Innocent Twizeyimana, one of trained technician on Artificial Insemination is also a farmer. He said they used to receive calls from farmers to intervene at the grassroots and failed to go due to lack of enough equipment. “We thank RDDP for supporting the trainings and providing AI kits to the technicians We believe we will manage to help farmers increase milk production that will improve their livelihoods,” said Twizeyimana.
RDDP is a project largely funded by IFAD) and is operating under the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources/Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Board (RAB).
Goal and development objective
The overall goal of RDDP is to contribute to pro-poor national economic growth and improve the livelihood of resource-poor rural households. This will be achieved by focusing on food security, nutrition and empowerment of women and youth in a sustainable and climate-resilient dairy value chain development.
Specifically, the project seeks to increase competitiveness and profitability of the dairy sector for the provision of quality products from small-scale producers to domestic and regional consumers, thus improving their livelihoods, food security and nutrition whilst building overall resilience.
For cows to optimise productivity, improving breed goes in hand with consumption of quality feed.
According to the project’s interventions, it supported farmers to obtain more forage varieties including grass and legumes.
The grass include among others panicum maximum, panicum cloratum, chloris gayana, pesissetum (kakamega) which is disease resistant. Legumes include: Desmodium in (species), leucaena diversifolia. Alfa alfa, Calliandra and Mucuna among others.
In order to increase milk production, Nshokeyinka explained that they combine grass which provides energy with legumes that provide proteins to milk production of at least 5 to 6 littles [per day] for crossbred cows.
He said that this is to help a farmer who cannot access concentrates as supplements for cow feeding.
“We provide these facilities because not all of our farmers can afford animal feeds from the factories. We build forage facility for a farmer to be able to store forage to cater for dry season period especially in Kayonzaand Nyagatare Districts, but we plan to expand more in other Districts,” said Nshokeyinka.
RDDP also has a component of delivering required knowledge to farmers through livestock farmer field school to share skills to each other.
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