“My Social Empowerment is All Attributed to My Cow” Reported to MPA By Mugabi Lazarus – an MPA Journalist in Uganda
“I have a passionate love for my cow and I do all things possible to take good care of it. I have no problems feeding my cow because I have plenty of pasture land. I am really delighted that my cow has increased my income through the sale of milk.” said Matilda. Namutebi Matilda, 34, and her husband John, 40, are peasant farmers and they have been growing crops for their own home consumption. They have five children (3 girls and 2 boys) and they adopted an abandoned child, Matthias. This family dwells in the remote village of Minyinya in Masaka District which has less fertile soil that barely supports crop production. I received a pregnant cow in 2010 although I was never convinced that MADDO would really loan me a cow, but since receiving one, there has been so much economic and social developments in my family. This cow project initially trained us to increase food production, to develop agriculture business and improve home sanitation.
They also taught us how to improve farming practices like digging contour trenches. Since our soil was not good for crop production, we decided to grow enough cow grass on 3 acres of land and on the additional two acres we grew coffee, bananas and beans- seasonally. Our cow gave birth to a male calf that was sold and the money helped to pay our children’s school fees and also managed to pay for the artificial insemination. I was impressed with its milk production that ranged from 18-22 litres a day of which we drink three litres to supplement our food diet and the excess is sold to our community and to the nearby school. We supply 15 litres of milk to this school and we are paid 168,000 UGX (about $67 US) every after two weeks. This income has enabled us pay for our children’s education in better UPE schools, pay for home essentials and pay for the veterinary services. And with the little savings from the milk sales, we are renovating our house, replacing the woody windows with glass and plastering the brick house as well. We also managed to construct a new and better latrine and bathroom. Our cow has so far delivered three beautiful calves in order to repay for the living loan I got from Caritas MADDO Cow Project, the female calf I got, early this year was passed on to Kiggundu Irefal, a trained and well prepared farmer in Kirimya village by then.
Because of MPA’s generous giving to support MADDO, I also endeavored so hard to feed this calf so well and passed it on in good health. For the social impact, I was elected women’s representative to our Local council committee because my family now looks like a model home. Apart from the cow’s milk benefits, it also provides manure to use to rejuvenate our soils fertility. We are now able to grow crops like bananas, coffee, fruit trees(mangoes) and seasonal crops like beans and maize which some is consumed, a few is reserved for next season planting and surplus is sold hence earning addition income. Besides the farm crop yields, we have leafy vegetables we use to supplement our daily main dishes and this has helped my children and Mathias remain healthier than before. The coffee and banana plantations yields are yet to improve due to the poor soil texture but the application of manure will help the soils recover their fruitfulness. (Surplus beans are sold, while the coffee plantation looks promising) In future, we hope to construct biogas plant that will help me do away with the use of scarce firewood I take time to collect. My dream is having a smoke free kitchen, thus preparing meals faster. We also hope, this year, to construct a water tank that will make possible water harvesting when it rains.
The good things my family and I have so far acquired, since we got this cow in our home, range from economic growth and social developments that we never thought this cow project will bring about. I thank MPA for the giving spirit they are exhibiting to improve our livelihoods through the MADDO Cow Project and thanks to our Bishop, for his endless efforts to find generous donors. Post Script: Since reading of Matilda’s success, we went through photos from MPA’s trip in 2010 and found a few of Matilda the day she received her cow.