Between July 23-24, 2018, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Rwanda for first official visit. On the last day of the visit, Modi and host President Paul Kagame drove to Bugesera district for symbolic hand over of his offer of cows to beneficiaries.
Reports from the time said Modi offered $200,000 for 200 cows. However, the facts on the ground, according to details in local media, are completely different.
Not only were less cows actually bought from original number, but also the beneficiaries have abandoned those that were delivered because the cows are consuming more than what is got from their milk.
While in Rwanda, Modi paid $10,000 cash on his pledge. Immediately he arrived back home, he sent another $190,000. The full pledge was to buy 200 cows.
At the time, the exchange rate was about Rwf 900 per 1 US dollar, meaning that each Friesian cow was budgeted for $1,000 or Rwf 900,000.
Now, local media, quoting Dr Uwituze Solange, the deputy director-general of the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB), says only 47 cows were bought at total of $47,000.
The balance meant for 153 cows, or Rwf 138m was used to set up the infrastructure for the 47 cows including where they sleep, spraying facility and insurance cover. The money was also budgeted for their feed and medication for a period of 6 months.
More than a year and several months later, local beneficiaries do not want the cows as they have become a big burden. The situation is confirmed by officials who help them take care of the cows.
Captain (Rtd) Bayisenge Innocent, who heads team of RDF Reserve Force officials in charge of supplying feed for the 47 remaining cows is also quoted in local media as saying some beneficiaries have abandoned the cows.
The cows each currently produce less than 5 liters of milk daily, way below compared to other similar cows that give up to 20 liters.
“Ten families abandoned their cows in the kraal. They are in the village but they never appear here in the kraal to check on the cows,” said Capt (Rtd) Bayisenge.
The reason for the low milk production is due to lack of grass for the cows as a result of long draught that has hit the region since 2018.