Herders In Nyagatare Embrace Technology to Beat Drought

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Karani Jean Damascene 77, at his ranch in Rukomo sector, Karurenge cell

Karani was feeding a collapsed and emaciated cow by hand one morning. A week later the cow died—24 of his cows died the next week.

“When the grass dried up my cows began to eat anything they could find …and they started to die, “It was a difficult situation because I didn’t have the funds to replace them”

The 2016 drought in Eastern Province left hundreds of thousands of cattle died and with them a way of life that had provided families a livelihood from the land.

Rwanda Eye met Karani Jean Damascene 77, at his ranch in Rukomo sector, Karurenge cell. For many generations his family have reared cattle.

Livestock farmers in Nyagatre are already benefiting from growing of animal fodder .

Karani recollects memories of how he lost 24 of his cows -Before the drought, he was a well off farmer, enjoying his cattle rearing and being able to supply his family with enough milk.

Like many farmers in Nyagatare, Karani is struggling to cope with the effects of a severe drought that has affected almost all cattle keepers in the region. “I had never thought of stocking grass for my cows during the long drought season, but that experience left me with a lesson,” he added.

Karani, who lost 50% of his herd, said the Nyagatare farmers were used to hardship, “Years ago we used to have enough grass here. The rains used to come regularly, and we had little stress,” he said. “But now the atmosphere has changed. I had to embrace the technology of growing of animal fodder”

Solutions

The government through the ministry of agriculture is helping such people living in the semi-arid lands build resilience to drought. “That is when MINAGRI introduced varieties of grass for livestock. The harvests have been very good.” Karani intimated.

“I thought it would be totally different from what I used to do. But it is only small changes. Now I am very much satisfied with what I have started to see on the ground… I have started to see hope for a great future.” Karani explained.

In a year, Karani harvests three times. Cattle keepers in the dry corridor have been challenged to desist from rudimentary methods and adapt a new fodder conservation technology.

Dr. Gerardine Mukeshimana, the minister of agriculture and animal resources told this website that the agriculture ministry is helping these families to build rural productive assets while transferring new production skills and approaches in order to enhance and diversify livelihoods.

“These activities are helping many better cope with the severe drought that affects this region a very year”.

Mukeshimana also said that drought is different from tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods. It can be more difficult to detect and it can last much longer than other weather events.

That means that drought is different from the other natural disasters doesn’t mean the ministry can’t plan for it and take steps to help protect herders from the effects of drought.

By introducing a range of simple yet highly effective projects, MINAGRI has helped hundreds of farmers to cope with the increased hardship caused by drought – and to retain their pastoral lifestyle.

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