What a difference a cow makes

Cows are moo-gicians! They not only provide a food source, but also magic manure to fertilise the land and a valuable source of income. 

That is why Farm Festival and Send a Cow are asking for your help to raise enough to give seven dairy cows to families in Africa this year. But why are we so set on cows? What difference does a dairy cow really make to a poor family?

Vital nutrients

As we all know, cows produce milk. Fresh milk is a source of energy, protein and calcium as well as important minerals like potassium, iodine and B vitamins.

Many poor African families eat only what they can grow, typically staple crops like cassava and potato. These food provide carbohydrates for energy but very few of the nutrients essential for growing children and good health.

Magic muck

One of the most important ways a cow can help a poor African family is not through food, but through its poop. Animal manure is brilliant at enriching soils, which in turn boosts crop yields of nutritious fruit and vegetables.

With more fresh produce, families can eat a healthier diet and have surplus to sell at market. In turn, this income can be spent on essentials like healthcare, school costs and housing.

A lifeline in times of need

All families face times of hardship from time to time: loss of a job, bereavement, house fires, and so on. For people living below the breadline in Africa events like this are not just a temporary setback. The little wealth families build up over decades can be swept away overnight, forcing them to sell land, send children away or face hunger and disease.

A cow is a valuable asset that families treasure and care for. It is also a lifeline in times of hardship as it can be sold to release precious income. For women who have unequal input in financial decisions, it is a relief to know that a cow cannot be spent by husbands, unlike money.

Lifted up by a cow

Grace Amongin from Uganda is in her 60s. Her husband died in the war in the 1980s, leaving her with 12 children and grandchildren to take care of. She told us that she used to be thin and unhealthy: “You can’t do anything without food. You need food security in a home. Food first, then progress.”

After training with Send a Cow, Grace turned things around. “My soil, which was barren becomes fertile. I reap what I sow. I never used to produce anything, but now with the manure I can grow.” Grace’s small farm plot is now bursting with vegetable plants and she processes milk into ghee for extra income: “I work with all my heart and with love from God. I have been lifted up.”

Farm Festival 2015 takes place 31 July – 1 August in Bruton, Somerset. You can check out the line-up and buy tickets through the website.