Model farmer giving his dairy farming story
Rural Women Take First steps from a “way of life” type of farming to Agribusiness
Empowering women requires a holistic approach to the challenges. To help women abandon FGM, structural gender inequalities must also be addressed. It is for this reason that HFAW provides economic empowerment strategies such as trainings not only in finance and entrepreneurship literacy but also best practices in farming.
We are excited to report that our community women took their first step in learning how to transform themselves from practicing animal husbandry as a way of life to becoming dairy farmers. This happened on October 16th to 18 when 25 of these committed women from 4 villages locally known as wards, embarked on a two day workshop with a local agricultural officer followed by a real life trip to the actual farm to view the process of dairy farming.
During the training the facilitator started from what the trainees know i.e. how and what they currently practice in their dairy farming in terms of breeding, feeding and marketing dairy products. The facilitator quoted the bible story ‘ When Moses was in the desert and requested God to give them water, he was asked by God to use the stick he was holding in his hand to strike a stone and get water for the Israelites. This was meant to encourage the women who wondered where to get new breeds to realize that they can use their current breeds of cattle to set short term goals to get better breeds.
The first day of the training elicited the following sentiments during an evaluation session in the evening. “ I am going to sell some of my cows and remain with one’ said Boke one of the trainees as she explained that she has learnt that she has a large head of cattle which does not give back earnings that break even with what she offers in terms of feed and treatment vs. sales from milk.
Another participant expressed how he was going to apply the knowledge and skills gained with the following statement, ‘Previously we used to give porridge to our calves incase the mother died but now we have learnt how to make colostrum using local resources’ said Daniel a trainee from Esise Ward.
The women were also trained on how to improve economic gains from dairy farming through value addition and diversification of milk from their cows. ‘I did not know I can make cooking oil with cream from my milk’ said Kwamboka after they were taught how to add value and diversify products from their milk.
Knowledge on feeding was also given to transform the farmers’ usual way of feeding according to the type of feed available. The practice has not been economical especially when there are cases of drought.‘ I am going to start preserving feed for my cows since I have known that preserved fodder and forage means continued flow of feed throughout the year and availability of feed for my cows means continued flow of milk and income too’ said Martha during feedback session.
The trainees were also taken for a field trip to see the things they were taught in class being applied in real life. At the end of the trip, the trainees had the following to say……‘I feel encouraged by Mr. Livingstone who started with a local cow which was worthless but with continuous work in improving her he has made a lot of gains. “This man has never been employed but see what he is doing, said Nyamusi from Mekenene village.
Another trainee inspired by the way the model farmer was using cow dung to produce biogas had this to say …… ‘I saw Mr. Livingstone use biogas for cooking. I was surprised he has used it since 2010. I am going to save and invest in such since we have a problem of firewood in our area yet I didn’t know my cows can be a source of energy too’ said Caren, one of HFAW grassroots leadership member.
The training also involved county livestock officers from the 4 wards that the farmers come from. They were also resourceful and will be involved in follow up among the farmers. ‘From what the county livestock officer taught us, I discovered that I should never have sold my calves but instead would have sold their mother since the offspring is always a better breed. I also saw how I will partition my zero grazing unit into feeding area, milking area, water point, sleeping area and feed storage area’ said Beatrice from Kiabonyoru Ward.
Two of the trainees gave their status before and after the field trip…one said…‘Before I came for this training I did not know anything about culling my livestock but now I know and I am going to do it. I also did not know that I should keep the tube I used for inseminating my cows for future referral with the veterinarian but now I know it is good to generally keep farm records’ said Nyangeri from Esise Ward.
The second trainee said that “It is after I came for this training that I understood why one day a veterinarian came to treat my cow and did not want to touch the dead calf with his hands. I now know that the cow was suffering from brucellosis and one is not supposed to get contact with the animal with bare hands” said Damaris from Nyansiongo Ward
The facilitator ended the session after guiding the group on how to register it with the social services office. This was a request by the trainees themselves who saw the need to do so. ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’ the facilitator encouraged them with this inspirational African quote about the value of teamwork in a group.
Dear Friend, colleague and partner, you have supported some of our projects which have allowed us to grow to reach these breakthroughs. We continue to seek your advice and support. The trainees require consistent technical assistance and support and additional trainings, mentoring and guidance to be able to realize positive outcomes. None of these can happen by our own effort. We invite you to consider making a donation and to send a request note to your friends and family. Tell them about this cause and why you care. Together we can improve lives of rural people through economic empowerment on best practices.
Mr. Livingstone demonstrating biogas production
Written feedback from trainees
Fresian and Jersey breeds of cows during field tri
Einray, livestock officer answering questions
Trainees sharing experiences in group session