Thursday, 25 July 2013

Dry spell dwindles in milk production


It is exactly 3PM local time at William Niyomugabo’s farm in Rwempasha sector, Nyagatare District. The Youthful Niyomugabo is busy with his three sons. They are gathering milk cans from the house to a nearby kraal in his farm. There are no other movements here. Everyone is getting ready-walking towards the kraal, since it is milking hour.

Standing in a distance, Niyomugabo shouts in a loud voice and mentions: “Ishi, Ishi, Kiremba.” a cultural name that belongs to one of his prominent cows.

In few seconds, the cow immediately responds and leads a group of over 30 crossbreeds straight to the kraal.

In traditional culture, Ankole cows are named after their colour and trained to all sorts of discipline by their owners-including leadership. This is the responsibility for ‘Kiremba’ to lead other cows in Niyomugabo’s farm.

“This is cultural…cows are like a company of soldiers. The always graze and walk but have a leader. That’s why you heard me calling one of their leaders (Kiremba). They can hear my voice and come without walking down the farm,” smiles Niyomugabo.

Milking time   

Niyomugabo and his elder son, David Rwamwojo, get to their knees and start milking. In this period of the year, it takes them only 30 minutes to milk 20 cows.

Dry spell dwindle milk production

Among Niyomugabo’s 30 cows, 20 of them provide milk. However, due to dry spell that has hit Eastern Province, Niyomugabo’s daily milk production slightly declined unlike in rainy season.

“In the middle of May and June, I collected over 180 littres of milk every day. But as you can see now we cannot make it to even 100. This is the dry spell. We are used to it,” says Niyomugabo.

Shortage of grass and water

At Niyomugabo’s 30-hectares farm, the grass looks dry. They look grey instead of green. The owner says his cows only enjoy grazing in the night.

“We graze in the night when grasses are watery. They are very dry during the day and this becomes hard for the cows especially crossbreed to feed on them,” explains Niyomugabo.

Apart from a dried up farm, Niyomugabo’s cattle walk some kilometers in search of water.

“Cattle movement especially crossbreeds affects their milk production. This is what happens when we turn up to dry season. I have a dam that satisfies my cows during rainy season but dries up during this period (Dry season). I have to depend on outside neighbours,” says Niyomugabo.

Government intervention

To respond to the dry spell issue that reduces milk production in Nyagatare District, the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI) earmarked over Rwf5billion under ‘Livestock Infrastructure Support Programme LISP’ to distribute water across farms in the District.

According to Dr. Ngarambe Michael, coordinator of the project, over 6467 hectares equaling to 967 farms will be given water taps as a way of assuring farmers will constant water for their cattle.

The project, which started early April this year, is currently underway in Tabagwe and Rwempash sector. It is expected to last for 18 months.

Cyatuka Emmanuel, a model farmer said of the project: “We are so glad that government ahs timely responded to the issue. The dry spell will now be a thing of the past.”


Dry spell dwindles in milk production


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