Photo by Dave Anderson
I dare you to find a Heifer participant who has done more for her family, her village, her Heifer dairy cows and farm education throughout her country and Africa than Huruma Mhapa of Ibumila village in the Njombe district of Tanzania.
In July 1993, after living in poverty in a small mud hut with her family, she received one dairy cow from Heifer International and its partner, the Anglican Church of Tanzania, and was trained in the zero-grazing method. Today, she’s a university lecturer in rural agriculture, farms 11 acres (six of them designated for cow feed only, five to feed her family) and cares for four dairy cows, all descendants of that first cow. She and her husband built a brick house with a concrete floor and a solid roof, a Heifer Tanzania 2010 calendar and numerous awards proudly displayed on her walls.
From 2002 to the present, she has trained about 4,000 farmers directly, including those from Heifer projects in other countries including Malawi and Kenya. Another 5,000 people have visited her farm to learn about zero grazing and organic farming.
Shown above, Huruma harvests the grasses she feeds her cows, which include several varieties of grass and fodder that contribute both protein and carbohydrates to their diet. Her cows, which are fat, glossy and sassy, are fed three times a day with the nutritious feed. She collects their manure and urine to compost for fertilizer and to convert to biogas to use for cooking and to power lights. She also sells the grasses and processed leaf meal she grows to other cow farmers. She milks the three oldest twice a day, keeping some milk for her children and selling the rest as part of the co-op in her village.
Among what she produces on her farm are: Maize, milk, calves, vegetable gardens, leaf meal from fodder trees, mushrooms, hay from rhodes grass, yogurt from milk processing, beans, wheat, Irish potatoes, bananas, guavas, plums and lime.
She says, only partially joking, that she loves her dairy cows more than her own children. You’ll see for yourself how much she adores them when you see what she’s working on for them right now, but I’ll save that for our World Ark article.