In the areas immediately neighboring Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in DRC, there is high population pressure on fertile, but heavily cultivated land.. In the bid to address these challenges alongside providing an alternative source of income to this park adjacent community, IGCP under its Sida funded project “Leading the Change” through Kohiki cooperative gave twelve cows to twelve households in Dec 2018.
The idea is that these cows will provide milk and manure to the beneficiaries. And once the cows give birth then the calves can be passed on to other members until every member benefits. By the end of 2019, if the cows are well fed, they are expected to give 10 liters of milk each a day. In Rwanda a litre of milk goes for about 200 RWF ($ 0.4); meaning that one can have enough for their household and for sale. Talking to some of the beneficiaries in Bugeshi, we learnt that the manure was already doing wonders on their farms and that some were even selling part of it to their neighbors and friends. “We are grateful for the cows. They are already serving a great deal. My gardens are all filled with cow dung and they are flourishing well, and, my neighbors asked me to sell some to them. At first, I didn’t know how but I gave it a try and it’s proving to be a source of income for me. I guess there’s much more to benefit from the cows than just the milk” Mukasine Asinati an elderly woman in Bugeshi and member of Kohiki cooperative said.
Adding to this, Sengorore Faustin also says “the presence of these cows is going to promote conservation friendly agriculture in Bugeshi. First, we have put away all the artificial fertilizers and replaced them with the manure from our cows. And two, some of us who were reluctant to plant setaria grass for erosion control on the farms have been forced to plant it as feeds for the cows.
Ideally, the grass is now serving two purposes while the cows are also on the other hand addressing more than just one need. We couldn’t be more blessed and grateful to IGCP and its funders”. The park adjacent community is being supported with alternative sources of income to empower them economically which gradually reduces their frequency and dependence on the park for survival.