We are thrilled to have launched our first new project of 2017. The two-year project, which starts this month, is funded by Jersey Overseas Aid (JOA). It will be delivered jointly by the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society and Send a Cow Rwanda.

The project involves training people in Rwanda so as to improve the feeding of dairy cows and strengthen the artificial insemination service. This will result in thousands of cows in the country producing more and better milk.

This will have a huge impact on thousands of Rwandan families living in poverty, and on the economy of the whole country. It is very much a hand up and not a handout, as the skills and knowledge will benefit Rwanda permanently.

What will the project involve?

Launch of Rwanda Dairy Cow Improvement Project
Officials from the Rwanda government, Jersey government, RJA&HS and Send a Cow in Jersey for the launch of the project

It aims to transform Rwanda’s dairy industry by:

  • Training 12,000 smallholder dairy farmers in improved breeding and feeding techniques
  • Training – or giving refresher training to - 200 artificial insemination technicians
  • Transferring thousands of straws of Jersey bull semen
  • Creating a digital database for Rwanda’s dairy herd.

By 2018, there is the potential for almost 200,000 cows to be inseminated each year.

Why Jersey cows?

Rwanda and Jersey have a great deal in common. As well as their love of dairy cows, they share an interest in financial services, tourism, agriculture and conservation work (particularly involving gorillas). And both countries have a history of speaking both French and English.

This project builds on more than ten years of cooperation in dairy cow improvement between the two countries. This cooperation has led to Jersey cows being widely known in Rwanda, and highly valued for their heat tolerance, calm temperament and good conversion of grass to milk.

Rwanda’s local longhorn cows, Ankoles, are beautiful but they are not great milkers. Cross-bred Jersey/Ankole cows produce around eight times more milk than Ankoles.

Jersey cow milk is also particularly rich in nutrients. So as well as improving the health of Rwandan families, the cows’ milk will also be used in school feeding programmes.

As a result of this project, tens of thousands more families in Rwanda will benefit from owning an improved dairy cow, with higher yields and more nutritious milk. This is sustainable development at its best.

Carolyn Labey, Chair of JOA

What impact will the project have?

Jersey CowThis project is highly sustainable. Its impact will continue to be felt long after it finishes. This is partly because it focuses on training and technology transfer. It is also because the quality of the entire nation’s dairy herd will be improved, becoming more appropriate to the many smallholders in Rwanda.

The size of the project means it will have a significant impact on national milk production. This will not only help the individual families who will benefit directly but will also be great for Rwanda’s economy as a whole.

We are delighted to be involved with a project that will strengthen smallholder dairy production in Rwanda, and to be part of building the foundation for a better future for the country.

Richie Alford, Director of Research and Impact, Send a Cow

You can find out more about Rwanda and our work there.