No bull - Rwanda buys Irish pedigree bulls to boost its breeding programme
The government of a tiny African nation gripped by one of the world’s worst genocides almost a quarter of a century ago has enlisted the services of four Irish pedigree bulls to help break its rural poverty cycle.
The Irish dairy and beef herd in Rwanda, where up to 1m people were killed in a 90-day killing spree in 1994, is set to grow again after the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources engaged Irish aid agency Bóthar to source bulls for its breeding programme.
The two Holstein-Friesian and two Jersey bulls – named Connacht, Laighean, Mumha and Uladh after the four Irish provinces – have been sourced at Dovea Genetics in Tipperary, leaders in bovine artificial insemination and suppliers of dairy and beef semen.
They will be transported on Thursday all of 11,000km to Rwanda – a nation slightly larger than Munster but with a population of 12.2m people.
The initiative is part of the Rwandan Government’s ‘One Cow Per Family’ programme aimed at reducing extreme rural poverty by providing families in rural areas with a cow.
The ‘GIRINKA’ programme, as it is known in Rwanda, has reduced rates of childhood malnutrition, increased employment and provides a stable income for the country’s poorest, many of whom live in desolate rural areas. To date, more than 300,000 families have benefited from it.
Bóthar has been bringing Irish dairy cows to Rwanda for 21 years and such has been the impact on families – the Irish dairy cow having six times the yield of the local cow – that the Rwandan Ministry approached the aid agency, which works mostly with genocide widows, with the unusual request.
Bóthar’s Chief Operating Officer, Niamh Mulqueen said they were delighted to respond.