Dairy Cattle Breeding Project
This project is based on 350 acres of land in ChaCha, Ethiopia, a site selected for its good grazing and water supply. Our goal is in cross breeding Ethiopian indigenous cattle with the Jersey breed to achieve increased milk production from cows that can be sustained on Ethiopian farms. Ultimately, adequate milk production will help improve children’s health and provide a means of enhanced income for area families. At present the local breeds will only produce one to two quarts of milk per day. This is not enough for the typical Ethiopian family of eight. As a result the majority of children in Ethiopia today do not consume milk. It is hoped that our new cross-bred cows will be able to produce upwards of 12 quarts of milk per day. The vision is to impact the people economically and nutritionally. We are encouraged to report that the first cross-bred heifer calf was born in August 2009. To date, there are now 44 first cross-bred heifer calves!
Providing a means for ongoing food sources is the key to eradicating future famine. Initiating family food security measures will provide sustenance and also a means for income. The program’s focus began as a result of the 2003 famine. Project Mercy worked very hard during this time to deliver monthly dry rations dispersed to 200,000 heads of families at sites within a 180 mile-circumference from Yetebon. Project Mercy also cared for hundreds of the most severe cases of malnutrition in its emergency feeding centers.75,000 children were involved in our Supplemental Care Program (fed five times per day) and an additional 1,300 children and elderly cared for in our Therapeutic Feeding Program (fed intravenously due to the severity of malnutrition). In spite of the horrendous effects of that famine, most of the children and elderly were saved.
Since that time, Project Mercy has been testing Drip Irrigation systems in its gardens in Yetebon and has found it to work during the dry season when the people are most vulnerable due to a food shortage.
The Agricultural Program will help by encouraging and teaching families to plant vegetables and fruit trees. ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization) has been extremely helpful and gracious in supplying expertise along with a variety of fruit tree seedlings including avocado and mango along with papaya seeds. Once the avocado and mango trees reach a certain growth stage, they can be used for grafting. The avocado, mango and papaya survive well with little water and are excellent sources of nutrition. When healthy grafts are provided to local residents who grow their own root stock, these trees will generate nutritious fruit at home sites throughout the community to produce a cash crop in good times and serve as a buffer in times of scarcity. During the interim, and as an on-going source of nourishment, vegetable gardens were started to provide food benefits for the families while also providing a means for a cash crop.
A small pilot group of families were introduced to drip irrigation and are following the vegetable gardening program with great results. Also among this group, 400 fruit trees have been distributed. To date, there are roughly 800 fruit trees being cultivated on Project Mercy’s compound resulting from 17 different types of trees. It is our goal to expand drip irrigation and the Vegetable and Fruit Tree Program to encompass up to 200,000 families. For fruits and vegetables not suitable for the market, Project Mercy is researching how to build a food dehydrator. Once enough of the dehydrators are built and the community has access to them, the dehydrator will be extremely beneficial in saving food that might otherwise be inedible.