Girinka is coordinated by the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB), an agency of the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI). RAB is responsible for the selection, certification and distribution of cows, the management of the centralised budget and donations of both money and cows, the training of beneficiaries in animal husbandry as well as program monitoring and evaluation. A focus on a decentralised approach means that each of Rwanda’s 30 districts is responsible for implementing much of the program. More information on this aspect of the program can be found under ‘Decentralisation’. The Girinka program coordinator, based at the RAB, is responsible for coordinating the activities of Girinka.
Each of Rwanda’s districts has a RAB focal person who liaises with sector and district vet officers, selection officers, local administration and the Girinka program coordinator. They are also involved in local level implementation, including distribution of cows, beneficiary training and informing farmers of the benefits of working with milk collection centres and milk processing factories. Monitoring and evaluation is done in partnership with local government units such as the umurenge (sector), akagali (cell) and umudugudu (village).
Before and after a beneficiary receives a cow either directly or via the ‘pass on’ system, the RAB coordinates support in primary animal care through training, veterinary services, artificial insemination, fodder seeds and plant materials for animal feeds as well as vaccination against diseases. The aim of this aspect of the program is to equip families with the animal husbandry skills to care for the cow themselves with the support of district and sector veterinary officers.
The RAB, under the guidance of MINAGRI and the Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC), oversees the implementation of the Girinka program. The program is scheduled to run until 2017 though it may continue depending on the phase out strategy. According to the National Agricultural Extension Strategy, the two ways that a beneficiary can receive a cow are as follows:
Girinka y’ingabirano (donation): A poor family receives a heifer by way of donation. When the cow gives birth, the first female calf is given to a neighbour or community member. Once that cow gives birth, its first female calf is given to the next selected beneficiary and so on. This pass on practice is called “kuziturirana”. If a male calf is born, the beneficiary may sell it and use the funds to buy a female calf to pass on.
Girinka y’inguzanyo (loan): A bank loan is given to a family to buy a cow. The beneficiary must meet certain criteria including being able to care for the animal, construct a cow shed as well as own sufficient land to support the cow.
While these are the two primary methods of program implementation, individual communities across Rwanda have designed their own approaches as mentioned in the Government National Agricultural Extension Strategy that can be found here. They include:
Inka y’akaguru: A variation on Girinka by the district of Kamonyi, Southern Provence that aims to produce a large number of cows in the community. The first owner retains the calf and the next beneficiary takes the mother and so on. This is faster than kuziturirana (donation) because there is a possibility of getting a new calf every year to the benefit of different households.
Kuragiza: A process whereby a cattle owner loans a cow to a community member who cares for it until it calves down twice. The owner of the cow then gives one calf to the person as recognition for caring for the original cow.
Koroza: A practice whereby generous cattle keepers give cows to poor community members to enable them to own cows for milk production.
1. Funding and Donations
- Funding is provided by the Government of Rwanda, non-governmental organisations and private citizens. For example, under the Dairy Cattle Development Support Project (PADEBL), the African Development Fund contributed 8,200 local breed cattle and 3,000 crossbred cattle to Girinka. The full report of the African Development Fund Lifestock Infrastructure Support Program can be downloaded here.
- Once the program budget has been allocated in the overall national budget, or donations received, the Rwanda Agricultural Board coordinates purchases of heifers. Efforts to decentralise the program have led to around 40% of the overall Girinka budget being distributed directly to the local government units for 2012/2013.
- Private donations are processed through the Rwanda Agricultural Board and are governed by the Ministerial Decentralisation Guidelines. In these cases, donors can set their own criteria for receiving the heifer, but RAB must certify that the cow is healthy before it can be given to a beneficiary.
2. Selection of cows
- The purchase of cows is done through an open tender process managed by the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) at the national level and by local government at the district level. Before a cow can be purchased from a supplier or accepted as a donation, RAB first conducts a series of veterinary medical examinations to ensure the cow is healthy and appropriate for the program. The Ministerial Guidelines on Cow Purchasing stipulate that the cow must be:
i. Healthy and free from contagious bovine pleuro-pneumonia and brucellosis.
ii. Physically sound.
iii. Between 18-24 months old and weigh at least 250kgs.
iv. Pregnant or at the age of insemination.
v. At least 50% of genetic makeup must be from an exotic dairy cow such as a Friesian or Jersey.
Each cow is tested for contagious bovine pleuro-pneumonia and brucellosis and its physiology is examined by RAB. The results are processed by the national laboratory. Where insemination is required, private artificial insemination technicians do this at the local level, some of whom are trained by RAB. Since the beginning of Girinka, there has been a phasing out of local cow varieties and today only the more productive exotic breeds are accepted into the program. This is because those cows produce far greater amounts of milk.
Priority is given to purchasing cows from Girinka beneficiaries whose original cows have calved down more than once and have completed the ‘pass on’ aspect of the program. The local government at the district level is responsible for communicating this to beneficiaries though they are not obligated to sell their cows. Each cow brought into the Girinka program is purchased for at least 300,000 Rwf. Where there are not enough heifers for sale in the local area, suppliers source the cattle from abroad. In these cases, a selection officer from the Rwanda Agricultural Board travels to the country where the cattle are located, takes blood samples and inspects the heifers’ physiological status. The samples are then brought back to Rwanda and processed by the national laboratory. All heifers that test negative for diseases and fulfil all other conditions are accepted into the program.
3. Selection of beneficiaries:
- The selection of beneficiaries is conducted at the community level under the principles of the Ubudehe program whereby the local community meets to decide which members should benefit from Girinka (and other social security programs). The meeting is facilitated by the umudugudu (village) leader who draws up a list of all the members the community thinks should receive a cow. The village leader then takes this list to the cell and sector level leaders who are responsible for purchasing and distributing the cows. The beneficiaries must also fit the criteria of the program’s Ministerial Guidelines. These criteria are described under “Beneficiaries”.
4. Preparation and training of beneficiaries:
- Before beneficiaries receive a heifer, they undergo a training program run by the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB). The training includes a workshop covering the five pillars of involvement in the program and beneficiaries are provided with supplies (including drugs, spray pumps and mineral blocks) to assist them in caring for their cow. Regular training and support continues until the cow calves down. More information on training is provided under “Beneficiaries”. You can download the Girinka Training Manual here.
5. Distribution of cows:
- Leaders at the sector level are responsible for assessing how many cows can be distributed given the available budget and the number of Girinka cows likely to calve down in that community. Once they have finalised the beneficiaries for the year, and beneficiaries have completed the training and constructed a cowshed, delivery is facilitated by RAB. Regular follow-up of the distributed cows is also conducted by the district veterinary officers, RAB focal people and other Girinka staff until the cow calves down.