Ankole-Watutsi cows are quickly being replaced in Rwanda by high-producing breeds. While the latter are an important strategy to combat hunger, the author worries about the loss of a cultural icon, not to mention biodiversity.It’s the giving time of year again, and if you feel like everyone in your life already has too much stuff, aid programs like Heifer International offer a feel-good alternative. From the comfort of your home you can donate a farm animal to a family in the developing world, in a loved one’s name. These programs operate on the theory that livestock is a sustainable handout, providing milk, meat, fertilizer, and a potential income source.
It’s a worthy concept, but here in Rwanda, where I’ve been living as an expat, it might be worth looking a gift cow in the mouth. The Rwandan government is giving the most vulnerable families free Friesian cows as part of a program called “One Cow Per Family.” And, considering that fact that well-fed Friesians can produce three times more milk than the indigenous longhorn Ankole-Watutsi breed, these cows can be lifesavers.
With chronic malnutrition rampant among Rwandan childre... Read more