Cobb-Vantress and Tyson Foods are supporting projects seeking to reduce extreme poverty in Africa, working with impoverished communities, national and local governments and partner organisations to help transform people’s lives.
Cobb veterinarian Dr Bret Rings has now joined Dave Juenger, Cobb corporate director of support services, who has been involved with the One Egg program in Rwanda over the past four years. Each visits at different times, so every six weeks one of them is there to provide hands-on support.
The program that was born in Rwanda has now branched out into two more locations - Haiti in the Caribbean and Uganda. The goal is not only to provide children with protein, but also to create a sustainable local market.
Rwanda is the most densely populated area of Africa. Slightly smaller than the US state of Massachusetts, it is home to nearly 10 million people, mostly engaged in subsistence agriculture in a fertile and hilly terrain.
One Egg focused on providing nursery schools with protein each day. Thanks to poultry farms operated by Ikiraro Investments, these schools provide an egg to every child each day of the school week. The project involves 10,000 laying hens per site, using stock from Irvine's Africa who are also Cobb distributors in central Africa.
Seventeen schools are currently involved, with other sponsorships in prospect. Around 100 children from ages two to five attend these schools. It costs $6,000 per year to sponsor one school, with surplus eggs sold locally and so helping to create a sustainable market in Rwanda.
"We're providing them with knowledge that is everlasting - teaching them how to help themselves so that they can pass that knowledge on to younger generations," said Dave Juenger. "After nearly three years in Rwanda, we tried a new model in Haiti, utilising an already existing poultry company and a similar sponsorship program."
The idea was to provide orphanages in Haiti with protein by purchasing eggs through sponsorship from the local Haiti Broilers company. To date, around 500 children are receiving an egg a day from this program.
Expanding into Uganda, the One Egg program wanted to try out a different approach, combining the first model in Rwanda with the second in Haiti. This aimed not only to provide children with protein, but again to sell eggs to create a sustainable local market.
Research is being conducted to determine the benefit of increased nutrition through eggs in the children's diet. In Uganda, they have completed building a sustainable poultry house, modeled after the one in Rwanda to provide the eggs.
"The Rwanda government are aware of what we are doing and fully supports our efforts. They want us to succeed, hoping to see Northern Rwanda eventually develop into a poultry capital," said Bret Rings.
The first modern feed mill was built recently in Rwanda, and will have a substantial impact providing many farms with the feed they need.
Now the program is looking for ways to reach more people by creating new partnerships. The goal is to provide more people with protein, and also to create jobs on these farms as well as developing a sustainable local market.