Hearing of a forest conservation project one thinks of key actions such as forest patrols, boundary clearing and forest management plans. Agatha Kipingi and her colleagues forming the dairy cow keeping group in Idegenda Village (Kilolo District) tells their story on how (through) dairy cow keeping supported by EAMCEF has changed their lives and avoided heavy dependency on forests for household income.
Our group consisting of 25 people was formed in 2013 during the Village Assembly meeting when EAMCEF arrived in our village. we received trainings on dairy cow keeping and construction of proper shelters for the cows. EAMCEF gave us 9 cows and 1 bull to start the project, as a group we now  have 23 animals in total.
In my house we managed to install a small biogas feeder that utilizes animal dung to generate energy for cooking. I bought a stove and constructed a good kitchen. In the past, I used to spend hours and hours – up to six hours in the forests fetching for firewood. With biogas, I use the ‘saved’ hours to attend my cows and my farm. I no longer go to the forest as it used to be, but I also enjoy my new smokefree kitchen, and my husband is now comfortable to join me while cooking. The new kitchen has reduced up to 75% firewood consumption thereby reducing pressure on surrounding forests. If all households in Idegenda Village keep cow and switch to biogas…our surrounding forests [The Uzungwa Scrap Nature Reserve] will forever remain intact”
With Biogas cook stoves my cooking experience has been so enjoyable – no hustle in starting the fire, no smokes, no dirt, clean kitchen… and nowadays I can see my husband comfortably spending time in the kitchen. My neighbours say I am better off just because I no longer face the troubles of the three-stones traditional stove!
I would have never afforded to pay school fees for my children if it were not for income from sales of milk. I earn TZS. 700,000 each month – this was not possible in the past. I no longer invade the forest for meat, I sell milk and get enough money to buy meat at any butcheries.
Before I joined the project my family never had access to milk, I now get excess and sell to my fellow villagers. For the last two years I managed to make around TZS. 3,000,000. I used my income to buy 2 acres of land and planted 1200 trees – I earned around TZS. 6,000,000 from trees. I used part of the money to clear school fees for my 3 children and install piped water in my house. In the past I used to fetch firewood from 6am to until around 11am and was not able to attend my farm properly. The cows give me biogas and I no longer waste time in the forests, I use my time to attend my cows and my garden. Before I started applying animal manure that I get free from keeping cows, I used to harvest 3 sacks of maize per hectare, but now the harvest has been doubled.