Robert Howard: Establishing A Rural Agricultural Sector in Rwanda

Farm vet Robert Howard gave up his time to fly to Rwanda to work alongside charity Send a Cow, which is helping to establish a thriving rural agricultural sector in Rwanda. Read his story.

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Before Christmas Farm vet Robert Howard gave up his time to fly to Rwanda to work alongside charity Send a Cow, which is helping to establish a thriving rural agricultural sector in Rwanda.

Improving The Management & Husbandry of Dairy Cows

During his two-week visit, Robert provided training to vets and animal health workers from the charity, from Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Kenya. The aim of this training was to improve the management and husbandry of dairy cows across East Africa, through expanding the knowledge and skills of the hands-on workers. Most farming families have just one dairy cow and aim to get 10 litres of milk per day. Cows provide valuable daily nutrition for the family, as well as providing a source of income, and equally valuable manure for growing crops and vegetables.

As Robert explains: “My role in helping to train local vets and animal health workers provided locals with the expertise and skills they need to best care for cattle. They will then go on to train other workers, who oversee 5-8 different farms in the region, passing on this knowledge. This trickle-down effect is fantastic, as we are helping to spread the right information down to the people who need it most, making a huge difference, and it is great to be a part of such an important initiative.”

Robert’s work in the field also focused on lameness prevention and treatment, and he also undertook sample taking and processing, post mortem examinations and how to maximise on-farm resources.

A Rewarding Experience

Robert concludes: “For me it was really rewarding to see the huge benefits that sharing knowledge, support and education can bring to a community. One woman’s story stands out in my mind; when we first met her, this lady was only selling vegetables. Send a Cow provided her with a cow, so now, she can use its manure to grow more vegetables to sell, which in turn has provided her with enough money to build a home. She now has a roof over her head, and that’s just one powerful example of the life-changing benefits that projects like this can bring to individuals.”

Back in Derbyshire, Robert’s role at Scarsdale Vets involves routine visits to its farm clients, TB testing, and attending emergency cases. Robert has been at Scarsdale Vets for just over a year, having graduated from Glasgow Vet School in 2014.

Scarsdale Vets is committed to continuing professional development (CPD), offering all its staff a range of qualifications, courses, lectures, and other opportunities to develop skills and knowledge. Scarsdale Vets encourages its staff to take part in voluntary work whereby they can share and build upon their skills and expertise to benefit others.

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