What's a cow worth?
In our world, we know what a dairy cow costs and what it is worth. But, in Uganda, the value is quite different. The MADDO Cow Project in Uganda which over the past 20 years, one Bishop has expanded to help families in his diocese to get out of poverty.
This program was open to all in his geographical diocese who would qualify whether Christian, Muslim or a local religion. Five years ago, Microfinancing Partners in Africa (MPA), founded by Sister Toni Temporiti in St. Louis, Mo., began to provide funding for this project.
How does the Cow Project Work?
Farmers invest in themselves first by training together in village groups to prepare their farms for a zero-grazing cow. They plant grass for the cow to eat; dig erosion trenches to manage heavy rains; build raised vegetable beds to protect their crops; set up hand-washing stations, latrines, showers, and dish-drying racks; interplant fruit and hardwood trees between banana plants; and construct a zero grazing shed. Neighbors help each other so that each farm benefits from the group’s efforts.
The qualified farming family receives an in-calf heifer (Holstein or Freesian). When the cow gives birth, she produces 18-24 liters of milk per day, enough for the family to consume (and boost their nutritional intake) and sell the extra to the project’s dairy. This extra income helps families improve their diets, keep children in school, make additional improvements to their homes and farms, and engage in their communities.
The LIVING LOAN of the cow is repaid when the first female calf is raised for one year and passed on to the next qualified farmer. Farmers also agree to help train other farmers in neighboring villages. Future female calves belong to the farmer, although the project has the option to purchase them for the project at fair market value. Male calves are sold, and the proceeds belong to the farmer.
The project is sustainable and can grow on its own because of the pass-ons. But there are many farmers, estimated 2,000 in Masaka, Uganda, alone, who are in need. To reach these families faster, MPA is supporting the Cow Project. A breeding center is being developed which will provide a reliable source of quality heifers within the project, further strengthening the sustainability of the project.
Each cow cost about $800 USD.