Heifer International targets to lift four million rural farmers across the world out of poverty by 2020. This was disclosed yesterday by Pierre Ferrari, the chief executive officer and president of Heifer International, at a one-week retreat in Kigali.
Ferrari said the aim of the retreat was to lay strategies on how to lift farmers out of poverty. Since every country has its unique context, sharing experiences will generate the best strategies possible, he said.
The retreat attracted top managers of the NGO.
“This cross practice of learning from the Rwanda, Tanzania and Cambodia will help the participants to learn a lot about the operations of Heifer International,” Ferrari added.
He stressed that experiences from elsewhere would help Heifer International Rwandan office to implement its projects more effectively.
“I am sure that Heifer International has contributed much to help farmers in Rwanda beat the poverty trap, especially in Kayonza, Nyagatare and Rwamagana districts,” Ferrari said.
Heifer International Rwanda interventions are in livestock and poultry farming in rural areas. The East African Dairy Development Project (EADDP), with the support of Heifer International Rwanda, has been instrumental in carrying out artificial insemination in Eastern Province.
Dr Charles Kayumba, the Heifer International country director, said they helped livestock farmers in the Eastern Province to adopt cross-breeds.
Kayumba said the organisation does not only give livestock to poor rural farmers, but also offers training in breeding, maintaining milk quality, record-keeping and business skills.
“The training has offered our members new knowledge and skills and has been an opportunity to reflect on our service delivery,” Kayumba said.
As a result of the interventions, milk production has increased from two litres per cow to between 15 and 20 litres, Kayumba said.
The NGO has been operational in Rwanda for the last 15 years assisting more than 45,000 families to enhance food security and improve their livelihoods.