Judy Moses, our U.S. director and member of the Browse & Grass Growers Cooperative in Wisconsin, is a small ruminant expert who has raised livestock for almost three decades. Every year she is amazed by how much she learns and is committed to passing her knowledge onto farmers associations in Mali and Guinea.
“We (cooperative members) struggle, just like other producers, with lambing deaths, balancing rations, pasture watering systems, cost controls, etc. Do these experiences transfer to such a faraway place as Africa? We have found that they do. There are more similarities between us than differences,” said Judy.
A great example of the important work Judy has passed along is helping the Farmer Cooperative, Wuyanion in Lofine, Mali. The Cooperative was created in 2008 to improve the social and economic opportunities through crop and livestock production. Initial beginnings were profiting from corn, but the group was familiar with small ruminant production with over 320 sheep and goats. But the flock was not increasing as a result of the challenges that the rainy season brought to their farm and other management skills that are important to sustaining a healthy group.
With prior volunteer experience in Mali, Judy was able to visit with Wuyanion members as well as local men from the village on small ruminant management. Part of the training included health care techniques that included detention and treatment of common diseases. After less than one month of Judy’s training, they were now able to successfully vaccinate 118 sheep, goats and cattle. Additionally, sanitation during the rainy season was challenging where Judy was able to teach the importance of keeping the housing, feeding areas and pens clean, dry and ventilated.
“I didn’t know that sheep need be cleaned but when I washed my ram yesterday and saw him this morning I was very happy and I noticed that my ram was happier than me,” said one of the training participants, Oumar Ouattra.
The Wuyanion Farmers Cooperative is now equipped with basic knowledge of how to manage their small ruminants and overcome environmental challenges. Their new knowledge not only helps their livestock, but increases income and food security for the 2,500 people of the Lofine village.
“One of my trainees in Lofine, Mali [so beautifully] said, “The light of the sun and the light of the moon together are not as bright as the light of the knowledge you brought to this village!”
This blog is adapted from a Winrock Success Story.