The Society’s connection to Rwanda dates back to 2004, when a Government of Rwanda delegation visited Jersey to discuss a collaborative effort to strengthen dairy production through the use of Jersey cattle genetics. In the following years (2005-09), the Society would support Rwanda through provision of Jersey semen for cross-breeding with the predominant local breed (the Ankole), and training of over 370 Artificial Insemination (AI) technicians. Dairy production would expand rapidly, supported by the Government of Rwanda’s Girinka programme, which by 2017 had provided over 340,000 farmers with a dairy cow.
In 2016, the Society partnered with Send a Cow, an international NGO working with over 10,000 low-income farmers in Rwanda, to design a project that could reach smallholder dairy producers with training and technical support at scale. This two-year project (2017-19), Jersey Overseas Aid’s first ever multi-year £1m+ grant, would expand awareness of the Jersey breed, greatly increase access to AI services, and increase milk production among beneficiary farmers by 50%. Now in its second phase (2019-22), the project works with an expanded group of partners including the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health (CTLGH) with its UK base at the University of Edinburgh, and Pan Livestock of Reading University. Phase II is launching a trial national cattle database, and conducting genetic sampling and market research to build a profile of the most profitable dairy cattle genetic profile for the Rwandan context. In line with Phase I, Phase II continues Send a Cow’s work with smallholder farmers, providing training and extension services for cattle health and fertility management, gender and social inclusion support, and improved facilities for fodder production and cattle housing.
The Society leads the three-year Malawi Dairy Growth (MDG) project with the support of Jersey Overseas Aid. The project works through implementing partner the Shire Highlands Milk Producers Association (SHMPA), a dairy farmers association with over 10,000 members, accounting for over 90% of milk produced in Malawi. We provide SHMPA’s team with technical and management support aimed at improving their farmers’ productivity and incomes, and expanding the reach of Jersey genetics in the Malawian dairy cattle population. Project activities include training, extension support (such as healthcare, feed, and breeding services), and policy engagement with the public and private sector.
Now in its final year, the project has trained over 7,000 farmers in cattle health and fertility management, and built the capacity of 38 SHMPA field staff with training and upgraded equipment. The impact of this work is reflected in a reduction of over 60 days in average calving interval in the SHMPA herd, saving an individual farmer $2 per day or an annual saving of $120 per year. SHMPA also operates a cow loan scheme for vulnerable women farmers, which has so far supported over 800 farmers to establish a viable dairy enterprise. Data collected from the project will also provide valuable insights on dairy cattle management and breeding to benefit smallholder farmers across the wider region.
The Society oversees a three-year project (2020-23) in Ethiopia, funded by Jersey Overseas Aid and in partnership with Project Mercy Inc. The project aims to promote and integrate the Jersey breed into smallholder farming practices in the Amhara region, to increase the quality and quantity of milk produced, consumed, and sold, with a focus on female headed households. Through creating awareness of the Jersey breed, farmer and extension worker training, and a community breeding programme, we hope to increase the incomes and food security prospects of approximately 4,500 smallholder farmers and their families. Data gathered through this project will also support the Society’s regional work with CTLGH and Pan Livestock, building knowledge on the most desirable cattle traits for smallholder dairy farmers in the East African region.