The Ministry for Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) has devised fresh impetus to achieve the target of distributing 350,000 cows to vulnerable Rwandans by 2017 deadline.
This was announced last week after Senators expressed doubt that the target might not be achieved.
The lawmakers on the Senatorial Standing Committee on Economic Development and Finance had visited the ministry to assess the performance of the agriculture sector in the framework of the Government’s 7-year programme, ending in 2017.
“The 30 per cent target that is pending can not be achieved within one year,” Senator Evariste Bizimana said.
But Agriculture minister, Dr Gerardine Mukeshimana said that, currently, the ministry has involved civil society organisations in the selection of the Girinka beneficiaries to fast track the process.
She noted that the cows distributed through Girinka come from various sources, including the government budget, partners and fundraising as well as beneficiaries passing on calves to other needy people.
“We are putting more efforts in passing cows to other needy people and collaborating with the districts to mobilise partners in those districts because those are the areas we consider the main sources of cows,” he said.
Dr Rutagwenda said they embarked on serious mobilisation efforts to ensure that ‘those with means donate a cow, [or] money to buy a cow.
Senator Bizimana noted that parliament outreach tours in 2015 revealed that, at district level, and Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), there was an issue of lack of reliable statistics regarding cows that are passed on from primary beneficiaries to secondary ones in restocking programme.
But Dr Théogène Rutagwenda, the Director General for Animal Resources at the ministry, said RAB collaborated with International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya, to develop software to ease data collection and management of all information about Girinka.
Taking care of Gririnka cows
Senator Chrysologue Karangwa said there were vulnerable people who were given cows but sold them off after failing to look after them.
Senator Bizimana noted that poor feeding of a cow could result into bareness which makes it hard for the beneficiary to get a calf to pass on to another person.
The senators tasked the ministry to show a sustainable way to ensure that cows donated under Girinka fully benefit vulnerable people.
Mukeshimana maintained that the cows are for the vulnerable, noting that there should be ways to support those unable to look after them.
“We are exploring ways to support the vulnerable beneficiaries who cannot afford the cost of looking after the cows, by bringing them together in common kraals,” she said.
The Girinka Programme was introduced by the Government in 2006 with the central aim of reducing child malnutrition rates and increasing incomes of poor households.
Dr Christine Kanyandekwe, Head of Animal Resources Department at RAB, said latest figures show that Girinka initiative has so far provided cows to over 250,000 families while the target is 350,000 families in 2017.
This implies a gap of about 100,000 cows that have to be provided.
“We are putting in more efforts in passing on cows to others, counting the cows that should be passed on, mobilisation among partners so that they continue to support this programme. There is also Girinka Week (campaign) that we started since 2013, which involves passing on cows, [and] identifying challenges faced,” Kanyandekwe said.