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.
of Cow Project farmers report savings averaging over $50 per month even after paying for school fees and farm expenses.
of Cow Project farmers have made improvements to their homes after receiving a cow.
of Cow Project farmers are sending their children to school.
Masaka, Uganda in southwest Uganda, bordering Tanzania and Lake Victoria. Uganda was established with its modern form of government in 1962. The median age is 15.6 (half of the population is younger than 15.6), and life expectancy is 55 years of age. There are about 154 people per square kilometer in Uganda. In Masaka, many families live on subsistence farms of 2- 10 acres, growing almost enough to fee their families. The main crops in the Masaka area are bananas, coffee, cassava and pineapple.
Miriam and her husband Ali joined the Cow Project and began to undertake the various improvements to their farm, as was directed by the training provided. However, they fell away from it for various reasons. During this time, the farm became less and less productive, and they came on even harder times. Their nine sons were unable to stay in school, because they could no longer afford the fees. As a result of their hardships, the family resolved to give the Cow Project another try, and working together they completed their preparations in three months. In gratitude to the Cow Project, Miriam has constructed some of the raised vegetable beds in shapes that spelled out “Caritas ♥” to signify that Caritas MADDO (the Cow Project training team) would always be in the Lubega family’s heart. Miriam, Ali, and her family are Muslim in faith, evidence that the Cow Project is available to all in the Masaka area, regardless of tribe, religion, or other affiliation.