Members of Ruambwa dairy farmers self-help group, who were previously destitute, are now a happy lot.
This is after the 20 members invested their meagre resources and energy in dairy and horticultural farming through the support of Send-A Cow Kenya, formerly known as Heifer Project International.
The group was formed in 2009 with the aim of transforming the livelihood of the members through cultivation of various horticultural crops.
“Every cloud has its silver lining. After struggling to keep the group afloat for a long time, the members’ dream finally came true when the non-governmental organisation expressed willingness to work with us,” said Denise Atogo, one of the beneficiaries.
The NGO provided each of the members with two dairy cows as one sure way of making them financially stable.
Apart from getting dairy cows, the members have also undergone effective livestock management training, courtesy of Send-A-Cow.
Denise Atogo, 43, an electrician by profession from Ruambwa Sub-location in Bunyala sub-county, who is also the group secretary, says prior to receiving help from Send-A-Cow Kenya, the members’ major challenge was acute financial constraints that had impacted negatively on the group’s income-generating activities.
“Acute shortage of funds had hampered most group members from engaging in viable income generating activities that would have enabled them to improve their standards of living. However, we are proud to say that our livelihood has changed a great deal since Send-A-Cow Kenya came in,” says Atogo.
“The training I underwent in Kakamega has empowered me a great deal to take good care of my dairy cows so as to increase milk production and earn good money,” he says.
“My two dairy cows produce between 22 and 23 litres of milk per day during the peak period — six months after delivery. However, between seven months and one year, the milk production reduces to 10 litres a day with each litre fetching Sh70.”
His vision is to transform his farm into a model farmers’ field school in Bunyala sub-County where farmers from within and without can come to learn more about modern farming methods for better agricultural yield.
“I am also planning to acquire a better breed that can produce between 60 and 70 litres of milk per day to enable me set up a milk depot.”
Apart from dairy cows, Atogo also grows assorted vegetables which include sukuma wiki, tomatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes, beans as well as coriander (Dhania) which I supply to various learning institutions in the sub-county.”
He adds: “The major challenge we face as dairy farmers is the high cost of Artificial Insemination services that has forced us to rely on local breeds. We are appealing to the Busia county government to consider providing us with AI services at an affordable rate so that we can have more cows capable of producing more milk and increase our earnings... We are however grateful to Send-A-Cow Kenya for chipping in by providing us with dairy cows that have positively transformed our livelihoods... We have said bye to extreme poverty.”