Problems related to poverty in Rwanda and indeed in Sub-Saharan Africa, are as old as the region itself. The consequences of poverty often reinforce its complex causes, hence worsening the problem.
Nevertheless, the current boom in modern farming is expected to end all problems related to rural poverty in Rwanda. The introduction of new exotic breeds of cattle in Rwanda, promises to be a solution to poverty.
Furthermore, the considerable commitment by the government to reduce poverty in the country is likely to improve people’s living standards in rural areas.
“We are working to see to it that at least each family gets an exotic cow. This is meant not only to provide milk, but also to give them manure for their farms in form of cow dung,” Edward Kabana, a local leader in Rwempasha-Nyagatare district said.
Rwandan farmers actually hold much of all the country’s economies. Farming holds the key to reducing poverty and helping to spread prosperity. We cannot overemphasize the fact that prosperous Rwandan farmers could become the backbone of a social and political transformation in the country.
“I have managed my family solely by keeping cows. I sell milk and butter. The money I get takes my children to school and feeds the whole family,” Richard Kanamugire, a farmer in Karangazi said.
Farmers have a real stake in improving their ¬lifestyle and livelihood in a more independent way. But what they need to do is to quickly adapt and adopt the modern farming methods.
This includes changing from the traditional Rwandan long horned cows to the exotic ones. Though farmers are trying the change sluggishly, it is expected that at some point they will get pure exotic breeds.
“I will change my cows slowly until I get the pure exotic ones. I bought a Friesian bull to do it slowly. You see this is the cheapest way to get the exotic breeds. They are expensive and when you make gradual change, you get time to learn how to handle the new types of cows. They are very different from our Rwandan cows, since they do not resist diseases,” Patrick Mugisha, a farmer in Nyarupfubire-Eastern region explained. It is interesting to again note that Rwanda is not only using the cows for milk and manure, but for cultivation.
“The bulls we have are very strong. They till the land in a very short time. They can also be used to carry crops from farms,” Raul Mugabo, a farmer in Mutenderi-Ngoma district said.
When farmers are able to manage mixed farming with modern methods, there is great hope that the future is bright. However, many of these peasants are handicapped by lack of skills to maximize production.
“When our cows get sick, we get in trouble - We can’t treat them.
There is only one veterinary officer in Mutenderi. So, when your cow is sick, you have to wait for long to have it treated. In most cases our cows die before they get treatment.”
Getride Mukamunana, resident of Mutenderi village said.
The government’s main challenge is providing enough training, to the farmers, so that they may acquire elementary skills.
They should be able, to at least treat their cows, before a veterinary officer comes their way. While the farmers have the bulls to help them plough, they lack the skills to control their animals
“The bulls we use are aggressive. They can even kill,” Salim Ndikumana a farmer from Mutenderi sector said.
“We struggle to make them work.”