Agriculture Minister, Agnes Kalibata, announced that the ministry is trying to identify “unconventional” means of supporting the One-Cow-per-Poor-Family programme referred to as Girinka, so that its target can be realized much faster.
Initiated by President Paul Kagame in 2006, Girinka targeted 257,000 very poor households each of which were slated to be given one cow, as a way of improving their welfare. Over 90,000 households have so far benefited.
“We are trying to find unconventional means of supporting this programme so that it reaches more farmers, and faster. It is not just the government that should be able to give a cow to a farmer,” Kalibata said stressing that other capable Rwandans should support the programme.
The minister said that in the next two weeks, she would go on a countrywide ‘cow-raising’ campaign meant to raise 3,000 extra cows every year for the programme.
By the end of this financial year (end of June 2011), she hopes to have raised 5,000 more cows.
She went on to say that when she first presented the idea to members of the business community and cattle keepers last month, the 89 people present readily promised to contribute 387 cows and even encouraged her to start mobilizing other able Rwandans.
“At this event, I was looking for 1,000 cows. I was telling those in attendance about the huge gap that we have, and if it was possible for them to raise at least 1,000 cows, and they said, no! Let’s plan to raise 3,000 cows every year, to supplement the government.”
On that night, one individual who preferred anonymity pledged 20 cows, according to the Minister.
Previously, cows have been obtained from governments such as Ireland and Kenya, as well as private Rwandans, government resources and NGOs like Heifer International, Send a Cow, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Plan International.
Once a cow gives birth, the owner must pass it on to another poor household.
“The possibility of the multiplier effect this would generate in terms of being able to reach these 257,000 families would just be unbelievable! We would be able to reach our goal within the next seven years,” she said.
Kalibata says her ministry has an annual budget of “about two billion francs to buy cows to give to farmers and to support related activities.”