Farmers get more livestock  

Some of the beneficiaries pose for a photo with their goats after the handover. Photo/Godfrey Lugaaju

What you need to know:

  • Tumusiime is optimistic that with the production of milk in the area expected to rise, RIPA is going to put in place a milk collection centre to have a place where farmers can easily get money for their milk.

Livestock farmers in Rubirizi District are set to reap big from cow and goat rearing after Rural Initiatives for Poverty Alleviation (RIPA), a Ugandan socio-economic initiative launched the Animal Bank project at the RIPA Incubation Centre in Ryekibagane - Magambo, Rubirizi District.

Since 2020, more than 100 households have been trained in zero-grazing dairy farming and goat rearing, with a potential impact on nearly 5,000 people in Rubirizi and Kyenjojo districts.

This innovative initiative provides selected smallholder farmers with high-quality crossbreed heifers and goats to establish their farms using sustainable zero-grazing methods.

A total of 57 households are the newest beneficiaries from this initiative. At the launch on May 3 in Rubirizi, 37 families received two goats each and the 20 cows were given to 20 households.

Prior to the handover, beneficiaries had already prepared their land by establishing pastures and constructing low-cost animal shelters with RIPA’s training and support.

According to Vincent Tumusiime Bamugaya, the director, RIPA, the not for profit social economic empowerment programme was started out of the need to find a solution for land fragmentation issue, through promoting zero grazing for dairy cattle and goats.

He explained that RIPA strives to teach farmers how to look after dairy cows and goats on zero grazing units by empowering them to build shelter and how to grow pasture.

“Our dream is to have RIPA as a national programme in all districts. We are piloting these projects to see how they perform. Once we are convinced that the model works well, we shall expand it to five districts in this south-western belt,” he said.

Tumusiime is optimistic that with the production of milk in the area expected to rise, RIPA is going to put in place a milk collection centre to have a place where farmers can easily get money for their milk.

“We are going to work with Dairy Development Authority (DDA) to ensure value addition on the milk as well. The market is available and it is massive. Farmers will be taught how to make money from these animals and they will not only develop themselves but also their communities,” Tumusiime said. 

Dr Moses Ahimbisibwe, the DDA regional manager for south western region welcomed the initiative and committed his organisation’s support in training farmers in best animal husbandry practices. He said in Rubirizi, the initiative is timely because the district is a milk deficiency one, where people are milking for only home consumption and not commercial.

Small holder farmers form 70 per cent in the area and these are very important in adding to the dairy value chain.

“As DDA, we are ready to work with RIPA to support their initiatives and grow them further. We shall be on the different farms supporting these farmers to benefit from this project. We want them to grow and start adding value to this milk,” he said.

Addressing agro production gaps
Tumusiime said most of the government programmes fail because they lack follow-up. He revealed that there has not been a proper channel of follow up and review if the projects are actually working.

“RIPA is going to change this. There are extension workers who are going to follow-up on these farmers. We are going to collaborate with the different agriculture government agencies that are willing to work with us to have the project’s objectives achieved,” he shared.

He added: “We are going to work with national agriculture advisory services (Naads) as their agents in this area and I believe we will contribute to executing their mandate. With national agricultural research organisation (Naro), we shall leverage on their different technologies in livestock to increase productivity and strengthen the farmers in the organisation,”he said.  

Francis Sserwadda, a retired politician from Buzenga One village was one of the project beneficiaries. He revealed that cattle keeping in the area is rare due to the small fragmented land. “Serious cattle keeping has come with RIPA’s intervention.

They showed us how one can use a small piece of land to earn from a cow,”he said. He explained that there was a knowledge gap in cattle keeping but residents have been made aware that when they get a good breed, it will give out good products that can earn them money.

Sserwadda shared that most people have been idle because they lacked an idea but now, a number of them will learn from those who have been trained and empowered.

“RIPA invited me for an engagement meeting in bringing up this project. I got access to the consultants and technical people implementing this dream and they helped me with tips on how I can grow pastures and take care of the animals,” he said.

Erias Kategaya, a resident of Rumuri Village in Rubirizi District welcomed the addition of a heifer to his existing livestock of 12 goats. He said he will now have additional manure to fertilise his farm and milk for home and commercial use. “I have attended a number of workshops by RIPA in livestock cow rearing. We have even made a group with fellow beneficiaries to help us keep track of each other’s progress and do knowledge sharing,” he said.

With one and a half acres, Kategaya is optimistic the cow will be a resourceful venture for his family’s efforts of being self-reliant.

Another beneficiary, Florence Nazziwa, from Kizurugu Village said the RIPA model is good because one can adequately feed a number of cows with the planted feeds.

She explains that with the training she has received on maintaining the livestock, she is optimistic the yields will be satisfying. “The cow has to eat twice a day, an equivalent of its weight. I hope to get milk for my family and income, cow dung and wastes for my farm. I thank RIPA and promise to implement what they have taught me to effectively earn from my livestock.”

The model
In remote districts of Uganda such as Rubirizi, smallholder farmers are stuck below the poverty line, and their agricultural livelihoods are under increasing threat from socio-economic and environmental pressures.

RIPA works closely with these communities; giving farmers access to income generating programmes and equipping them with the skills they need to build a sustainable living.