Monday, October 4, 2010

Local adaption of a national program; sustenance farmers adding animals to their production

Bukomero Village members came together for a third time last Saturday to discuss their desire to start animal projects. This is the same village where the traditional dancers are from. The rainy season is coming soon and people are planting their next harvest. Families are largely reliant on growing their own food and agriculture sales, yet this is not enough to sustain a family. Water from a pipe is 10 Rwandan Francs per jerry can (about 20 liters), a family typically uses 3-4 jerry cans of water a day, heath care is 1000Rwf a year per person and although primary education is supposed to be free, uniforms, materials and school food add up. Growing and selling crops is not very profitable although it makes sense for local sustainability, the ecosystem and the environment. A pineapple can be sold for 120Rwf, a fruit that bears once a year; a kilo of green bananas is sold for less than 100Rwf. While each person may grow a bit of produce to sell, they also need to grow enough to feed a family every day.
The national government of Rwanda in partnership with Heifer International has a cow project, where they give a cow to the poorest person in a village and the first calf that is birthed is given to the next poorest person. The project has seen benefits. Cows are highly respected and desired here as in most of East Africa. They can be sold for 700+ US dollars and used for food. A problem that faces people raising cattle is the cost of feed and a problem that faces the community is that cattle are not birthed quickly. It will take a long time for one cattle to give enough offspring to provide benefits for the whole community.
The members of Bukomero Village know of the benefits of having animals. It provides a means of nutrition, money and economic growth for a family. A pig can give birth to 10 piglets at once, chickens can lay eggs and breed and goats can reproduce as well. The profitability of animals and their production will help lift the burden of every day expenses for the people of Bukomero Village, while keeping their lifestyle locally sustainable. They will still grow their own food crops through land cultivation, but have animals roaming their grounds as well. While many projects seek to profit from capital in cities or external regions, this project will let the people of Bukomero gain greater food security and income on their own land. 
In the above picture you can see members voting on the project and in the very top pictures, they are writing their grant proposals. They worked for over two hours developing their ideas and writing their proposals. Each group voted on a president and vice president who will be responsible for tracking project success and reporting back to the MicroGrant facilitator and Spark MicroGrants. More internal logistics are being worked out. For more information and to participate in the conversation around this project, visit our google group:
The group thanks Spark and everyone who is contributing to the project for choosing to help them. They are incredibly grateful for the opportunity.

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