Africa Bridge staff have successfully conducted avocado harvesting monitoring visits at at both the Masoko and Mpombo wards. The purpose of the visits were to see how many Co-op members harvested avocados this year, and the amount of avocados harvested. It was found that co-op members in both wards had seen a very successful avocado harvest season. In the Masoko Ward 86 co-op members harvested a total of 68,477 lbs of avocados, and a 101 co-op members harvested a total 94,652 lbs of avocados in Mpombo Ward.
Both wards are reaping the benefits of their successful harvest by selling their avocados to the KUUZA Company and LIMA Company. Both companies service people in the Rungwe and Njombe regions. From harvesting and selling avocados, both wards combined earned a total income of 88,792,776 Tanzanian shillings, which equals $38,927.13 US dollars. This goes to show the incredible opportunities for co-op members to generate sustainable income just from an avocado tree. Avocado trees provide a delicious treat, a social capital booster, and an income!
Feeling inspired? Enjoy the amazing benefits of avocados with this quick and tasty recipe for five-minute avocado toast from Gimme Delicious!
Healthy 5 Minute Avocado Toast
- 1 avocado peeled and seeded
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- salt & pepper to taste
- 2 slices whole grain bread or bread of choice
- 2 eggs fried, scrambled, or poached, optional
- Toast 2 slices of whole grain in a toaster until golden and crispy.
- In a small bowl combine and mash the avocado, cilantro, lime, and salt + pepper to taste. Spread half of the mixture on each slice of toasted bread.
- Top with fried, scrambled, or poached egg if desired.
Bugoba Secondary School students and headmistress feeding cows grass.
There are eight schools in the Kisondela Ward that have cows onsite that students and faculty look after. This is our Cows For Kids program, in which Africa Bridge staff and partner agencies teach the children how to properly take care of the cows.
Children in the schools take great ownership of these cows; scheduling who will take care of them on weekends, feeding them, ect. Not only are the children learning about the responsibilities of taking care of an animal, they are learning life skills outside of the classroom setting that are teaching them time management, the importance of reliability, and how to raise cows.
Last week, Africa Bridge staff conducted follow-up vaccinations on all of the cows located at Kisondela Ward schools. Each school was taught deworming techniques and treatments for the cows, and encouraged to vaccinate every three months. The schools are also expecting to provide annual vaccination for diseases like anthrax, blackleg disease, and lumpy skin disease which starts from September to November each year. Empowerment Workers – community members trained to assist Africa Bridge in working with vulnerable children – and livestock officers will work collaboratively to ensure all schools are continuing to provide all required vaccines for their cows.
Kisondela Ward, TZ – Christina Anyosisye never thought she would own a cow. A subsistence farmer and mother of three, Anyosisye struggled financially. “I had wished to pay for my children’s school expenses, and also to buy a new piece of land and build a new better house for my kids, but I coul not afford to do so.” In her spare time she works at a local tea farm, where she earns 20,000 Tsh per month, equivalent to just 9 US Dollars.
Because of their financial struggles, Anyosisye’s family was invited to join an Africa Bridge cow co-op in her village. She met with other community members who were facing similar challenges, like taking care of most vulnerable children, and she attended an Africa Bridge agricultural training session. “It was my first training but I learned a lot of useful lessons, such as appropriate methods of taking care of a dairy cow, how to feed a dairy cow, calf rearing, milking, diseases identification and how to prepare a good fodder farm for a cow.” After training for several weeks, Christina Anyoisye received the first cow she had ever owned.
“It’s like a miracle for me.”
This cow is already pulling its weight. Says Anyosisye, “the cow is providing us manure and we apply it in our farm. One day my children will be drinking milk from this cow, and some of the milk will be sold in order to increase our household income.”
Beyond making ends meet, this new income will also help Anyosisye reach her long-term goals as well. “I will be able to build a better house than the one you are seeing now, and I will afford to cover my children’s school expenses.” Anyosisye says all this was unimaginable before. “It is like a miracle for me. I am really grateful to Africa Bridge for this great support for my family.”
Like Old Mother Hubbard, who had to scramble to find shelter for all her children, the new dairy farmers in Africa Bridge’s Mpombo ward have scrambled in the last month to prepare proper shelters for their new young cows.
Funded by the US Agency for International Development, this dairy cow cooperative project in Mpombo ward is demonstrating the power of farm cooperatives in lifting village families out of poverty to economic independence.
Diary farming, as taught by Africa Bridge and Tanzanian local government livestock experts, relies on “zero grazing.” This means that cows do not wander freely on farms or village roads, nor are they pastured in fenced fields, as you see in the US.
Rather, they are kept in simple open-sided shelters, and food is brought to them. There are several reasons why this is the preferred method in rural Tanzania.
First is hygiene: Keeping cow dung out of yards, paths and roads improves community health, as many people (especially children) are barefoot much of the year. In addition, this prevents contamination of drinking water.
Second, maintaining high milk production is crucial – both for family nutrition and for income from milk sales. When cows wander all day looking for forage, they burn essential calories and their milk production declines. Cows whose food is brought to them are healthy and have high milk production.
Another important factor is land availability: Farms here are small, and the typical dairy co-op farmer will have only about an acre for his home, animals, and some crops or a garden.
Finally, when farmers collect forage themselves they can assure that cows are eating the proper grasses for best nutrition, and are prevented from sampling vegetation that can be harmful.
In Mpombo in recent weeks, experienced farmers from other Africa Bridge projects and AB staff have supervised new co-op members in constructing sturdy shelters for all 60 cows and 5 bulls, scattered in 5 villages in this hilly district.
The shelters are made with cement floors, using indigenous materials for pole supports and thatched roofs. Co-op members received up-front loans for the cement floors, and collected the other materials themselves. All construction was done by hand, with co-op members helping each other, and staff teaching and supervising as they built.
While they were at it, each co-op member built a manure shed. While we might wrinkle our noses, manure is valuable in Tanzanian villages. Farmers use it to fertilize their crops, and dairy farmers can sell manure to neighbors, supplementing their income.
The cows are now safely settled in their new shelters, but no rest for the farmers. In future posts, we will tell you about the many training topics farmers must master in order to keep their cows healthy and productive.
Alesi resides in the Idewli village of the Isongole ward of Tanzania, Africa. The Isongole ward is within the Rungwe district of the Mbeya region. Alesi is a widow that cares for five children. She has four children of her own and cares for one orphan.
Prior to her involvement with Africa Bridge, she lived a subsistent life with barely enough to eat and make ends meet. She lived with her mother and children in a small mud hut with a grass roof, but was determined to make a better way for herself and those she loved.
Alesi’s life changed after meeting Barry Childs, founder of Africa Bridge, and learning about Africa Bridge’s cooperative programs. Alesi began participating in the Africa Bridge agriculture program, potato farming. Africa Bridge gives a grant to the cooperative, which in turn, gives loans to cooperative participants.This loan is used as start-up capital and is to be repaid with interest. The full amount of the loan repayment and half of the interest goes back into the cooperative which uses the money to help other villagers become cooperative participants, and the other half of the interest goes into the Most Vulnerable Children’s Committee (MVCC) which aids in community services. This program creates a self-sustaining community circle.
Alesi was able to secure a loan from the potato cooperative and began potato farming.With the money she was able to purchase the necessary supplies to productively farm. She was able to buy good seed, fertilizer, insect repellant, and fungicide to get her farm off to a healthy start. An average yield of potatoes in Tanzania, without support, is roughly 5 bags per acre. But, with cooperative support, Alesi’s farm began yielding 10 to 20 bags of potatoes per acre, four times the amount. Alesi’s potato farm became successful and she was able to repay her loan within two years, rather than the planned three years.
Alesi was in the first potato cooperative started in the Idewli village. She became a leader, and an example to her fellow villagers. She broke the back of poverty and transformed her life within four years. Through Africa Bridge business training, she quickly became an entrepreneur. Alesi started several small businesses with her profits from potato farming. She opened a small grocery that sold incidentals and non-prescription medicines, she sold hot porridge from a cart in the winter, opened a tailoring business, and cleverly thought to rent out her cell phone by allowing others to buy minutes from her and use it. A cell phone is a treat in the remote villages. She continues to maintain her successful potato farm.
Today, Alesi’s family is doing well and lives in a new house. The house is made of concrete walls, a tin roof, and has electricity and running water. Her children are in good health, because she can now afford medical care. Most importantly, being able to lift her family out of poverty has provided her and her family with a sense of peace, happiness, and well-being. The future is bright!
Written by Rita Romine-Black
All Africa Bridge dairy cow cooperative programs believe in the healthy upkeep of the animals. All cows receive healthcare provided by a pare-vet. A para-vet is equivalent to a nurse practitioner, but for cows. Up to 2 co-op members are democratically selected from each dairy cow cooperative to become a para-veterinarian. The main criteria for becoming a para-vet is that a trainee must be able to read and write, work well with people and demonstrate an ability to care for cows, and be in good physical health to hike through the villages. The para-vet is selected by the co-op, but also cares for other cows in the village. The para-vets work with the local Tanzanian Ward Agricultural Livestock Officer (WALO) during their tenure. Job duties for a para-vet include attending regular trainings, scheduling and administering routine medications, acute cow care and meeting with WALO quarterly.
Para-vets receive training by someone trained in animal keeping and husbandry, such as, a veterinarian or agriculturalist. Training starts 3-4 months after a cooperative is formed and held in a central location within the village. Participants receive 4 days of training; 2 days of practical application, and 2 days of theory. Training covers common diseases, medication administration, understanding clinical signs of disease, and monitoring visits with the animals and cooperative members. Para-vets handle 80% of all routine cow related wellness issues, but if an issue is more complicated they will seek an expert. If a cow needs shots or gets sick with a common complaint like Mastitis (similar to a cold virus), they can give care. If a cow is giving birth and it’s a straight forward birth, a para-vet can deliver the cow. If a calf is breach and the birth is complicated, a veterinarian, or WALO is called in to help deliver the calf. WALO provides back up to serious cow related issues.
VISITS AND FUNDING
In the first 2 of years, the cooperatives and para-vets receive visits every month from Africa Bridge’s agriculturalist trained in animal husbandry, Mr. Noel, and Africa Bridge para-professionals. Para-vets receive a lot of hand-holding until they are comfortable with the processes and responsibilities of cow care-taking.
Africa Bridge provides initial funding for a veterinary revolving fund in the co-op. After receiving this initial funding kick start, para-vets begin purchasing their own medicine and create a supply. Payments made to the para-vets are for drugs only. Prices are typically set by the cooperative, but may vary for those in or out of a cooperative, or on a per village basis. Para-vets are responsible for logging information on what services are done, and how much medication is used and reports this information back to the cooperative. Para-veterinarian care generates another business spun from a dairy cow cooperative.
With your generous support, we can continue to bring necessary healthcare to Tanzanian livestock. Please join us and help support the What One Dairy Cow Can Do campaign aiding Tanzania’a Most Vulnerable Children.
Written by Rita Romine-Black
Africa Bridge started their partnership with eight villages in Masoko Ward in July of 2008. We’re now slowly approaching the end of our program with the people in Masoko and are excited to share some of the successes with you!
Let’s start with a little background, Masoko ward has an estimated population of 10,425 people. The families here live together in approximately 2,633 households, but are fairly geographically scattered. Masoko ward is rural, isolated and marked by steep ravines and streams, making it fairly difficult to get around. 4,501 of the residents in the ward are children and Africa Bridge classified 1,782 of them as Most Vulnerable during their transit walk. That’s almost 40% of all kids, which is unusually high compared to Tanzania’s national average (about 11%).
Since Africa Bridge has begun working within these communities, together with the care-takers of Most Vulnerable Children, we’ve been able to start 24 cooperatives that have been in operation now for 2 to 5 years! And that means 481 members in the maize, cow and avocado co-ops are caring for 1,157 Most Vulnerable Children.
At a recent quarterly meeting with Africa Bridge staff and the maize co-op owners, they discussed some of the accomplishments as well as the obstacles that they’ve faced in this past quarter. Some of the co-op members also reported that they had started harvesting their crops for the year, which is always good news! And, the avocado co-ops are also doing well, as Africa Bridge staff shared after their quarterly meeting.
Our staff also met with the cow co-op members, who thankfully reported that their cows continue to receive visits (and treatment if needed) from to para-vets, to help their cows stay healthy! Additionally, many of the cows are now delivering their third calves, which are going to be donated to the Most Vulnerable Children’s Committees. And, the co-op members also decided to join the Rungwe Milk Collection and Cooling Cooperative, which is selling their milk to a yogurt factory in Iringa. That should ensure a steady supply of milk sales!
As you may have read about Mpombo Ward last week, Africa Bridge has also undertaken a tree planting project with the Rungwe District Natural Resource Officer in Masoko ward. Here 460 cheerful school children helped to plant and astounding 4,000 trees!
And of course the Most Vulnerable Children’s Committees have also been very busy. The 88 volunteers have managed to serve 736 Most Vulnerable Children this quarter, and also provided 72 with new school uniforms.
We’re humbled to witness these positive changes in Masoko Ward. And it’s also wonderful to see that the co-op members and volunteers moving towards complete self-sufficiency– requiring less and less support from Africa Bridge. Thanks for all your continued perseverance, strength and hard work to make these changes happen!