Livestock Research for Rural Development 27 (9) 2015 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Socio-demographic determinants of passing on the gift among livestock farmers: An examination of Send-A-Cow project in Kayonza and Rwamagana districts of Rwanda

Edward Mutandwa and Aphrodis Ngendabanga1

Department of Rural Development and Agribusiness, Higher Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry
(now University of Rwanda, College of Agriculture, Animal Sciences and Veterinary Medicine), BP 210, Musanze, Rwanda
1 Department of Rural Development and Agribusiness, Higher Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry
(now University of Rwanda, College of Agriculture, Animal Sciences and Veterinary Medicine)


Livestock resources form an integral part of Rwanda’s socio-cultural and economic setting. Public livestock initiatives were developed in recent years but the programs have been limited by financial resources. It is against this background that Send-A-Cow Rwanda (SACR) project was developed. The main objective of this research was to examine the impact of various socio-demographic factors on the passing of livestock resources among farmers in Kayonza and Rwamagana districts. A multi-stage sampling procedure was used to guide the data-collection process. A binary logistic regression model was used to analyze the data.

Results showed that the probability of passing on the gift was influenced by frequency and quality of SACR veterinary extension services as well as calving frequency of ther "gifted"animals. Farmers, however, had a low perception of SACR veterinary extension services offered by the project. These results suggest the need to explore complimentary veterinary extension services for greater project sustainability.

Keywords: multi-stage sampling, regression, smallholder farmers, veterinary extension


Historically, livestock resources have been recognized as part of the socio-economic and cultural context of the developing world (Holden et al 1996). The livestock sub-sector is important in sustaining rural livelihoods through the provision of a wide variety of commodities including milk, meat, manure, hides and income (De Vries et al 2007). In 2011, the world had close to 20 billion poultry, more than 1 billion cattle, about 1 billion pigs and well over 1 billion sheep (FAO 2011). There, however, seems to be a skewed pattern of livestock ownership in rural areas with men owning large livestock such as cattle while most women own small livestock such as goats and chicken (FAO 2011). Despite the pre-eminent role that livestock plays in sustaining rural communities, access to adequate human nutrition remains a challenge. For example, protein consumption per capita in developed countries was 102g/day in 2005, whereas the developing world had an average of 70g/day during the same period (FAO 2005). Furthermore, 29% of the Sub-Saharan population did not have access to sufficient calories compared to a global average of 13%.

Over the years, livestock productivity has been negatively affected by the incidence of diseases and unpredictable climate thereby reducing opportunities for achieving food security (Van Veen and de Haan 1995). In cattle dependent communities, for instance, different types of diseases, including heartwater, anthrax, foot and mouth, trypanosomiasis and black quarter have had devastating effects in countries such Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Botswana and South Africa (Steyn et al 2010; Ahmed and Khalid 2013; Gabalebatse et al 2013; Karodia 2013). Traditionally, most governments responded by developing and providing public veterinary services focusing on treatment, prevention through vaccinations, provision of drugs and control of zoonosis (Holden et al 1996; Adesiji et al 2013). Extension services in animal health and production is available within the public sphere (Morton and Wilson 2000). In general, livestock extension educational activities focus on a broad spectrum of activities that include animal nutrition, breeding and marketing of animal-based products (Chizari and Noorabadi 1999). Although varying by context, livestock extension education is delivered through field days, exchange visits and sometimes seminars with rural livestock farmers (Toro and Place 2004). Nonetheless, the sustainability and effectiveness of public veterinary and livestock extension services has been put to question by development agents as well as policy makers. Given the poor economies of developing countries, a number of governments have failed to provide adequate financial resources to cater for the changing needs of the rural livestock sector (Sen and Chander 2003). Subsequently, the impact of veterinary and livestock extension education has been generally low (Swanson and Samy 2002; Davis 2008; Rivera 2008).

Various alternative mechanisms for complimenting the poorly performing public livestock extension system have been explored. For instance, some rural communities have increasingly adopted the use of ethno-veterinary medicine (McCorkle and Mathias-Mundy 1992; Matekaire and Bwakura, 2004; Mwale et al 2005; Adamu et al 2013; Gabalebatse et al 2013). Although, ethno- veterinary medicine is touted as an effective way of combating and treating diseases, most methods have not been subjected to scientific scrutiny and therefore not widely accepted (Matekaire and Bwakura 2004). There also have been calls to improve access to veterinary extension by relying on community-based para-veterinarians (Mugunieri et al 2002; Catley et al 2004). Furthermore, contemporary literature has suggested that privatizing veterinary extension services is likely to enhance the availability of services to underserved farmers in developing countries (Turkson and Brownie 1999; Chapman and Tripp 2003; Anandajayasekeram et al 2007; Foti et al 2007; Ali et al 2011). Several studies noted that several factors are likely to impede delivery of effective private extension services i.e. interference by government, nonexistence of community-based associations, prohibitive costs of health care, and an inadequate legislative framework (Achioja et al 2010; Adesiji et al 2013; Ilukor et al 2013).

Over time, various non-governmental organizations have crafted community driven veterinary and livestock extension education services, but their impact on various aspects of livestock production and productivity in the developing countries is yet to be quantified. Heifer International, for example, has established numerous livestock-based projects in 115 countries as a way of reducing chronic poverty among rural people (De Vries 2011). Send-A-Cow UK is one of the many organizations funding various Heifer International livestock initiatives in Africa (De Vries 2011). In terms of impact, Rawlins et al (2014) found that children from livestock recipient households had better anthropometric measurements and food consumption had increased compared to the control group in Rwanda, thus a contribution to food security.

Livestock and veterinary extension system in Rwanda

Like most developing countries, livestock assets are considered as an important indicator of wealth and essential in the attainment of household food security in Rwanda (RAB 2006; Nshimiyimana and Mutandwa 2010). The predominant forms of livestock include cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, poultry and rabbits. In 2013, the country had 798000 sheep, 1 million pigs, 1.1 million cattle, 2.7 million goats and about 4.8 million chickens (FAOSTAT 2013). The main livestock products include milk, meat, fish and eggs, which are mostly for household consumption (RAB 2013). In addition, livestock numbers have been increasing through the impact of different policy initiatives such as one-cow-per poor family program (Girinka), whose main objective is to provide poor households with cows for each family.

In Rwanda, agricultural extension is conducted by local administration entities after policy changes implemented by the Government of Rwanda in 2004-2005 (Hakizimana 2007). In 2007, the extension worker-to-farmer ratio was estimated at 1:10,000 implying that there was a limited capacity to effectively provide animal health care services to rural farmers. District veterinary extension officers work in collaboration with sector veterinary technicians to provide a wide array of services related to animal health care. Public veterinary extension services are also complimented by programs run by different non-governmental organizations such as Send-a Cow-Rwanda (SACR).

SACR is an international NGO working with groups of poor and vulnerable farmers in various developing countries, including Uganda, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Lesotho, Rwanda, Zambia and Kenya. The project commenced in 2001 in Rwanda with the broad thrust to empower resource poor people by providing cattle and goats. SACR is premised on the principle that secondary beneficiaries would get calves from those who initially received cows (Holden 1999). A total of 11 districts located in Kigali City, Northern, Eastern and Southern Provinces were involved in the project (SACR Report 2009). According to the report, about 160 families lost their animals in 11 participating districts out of 2610 cows distributed in 2009 and many cases were not attended to by veterinary technicians. Between 2005 and 2009, about 540 farmers in Kayonza and Rwamagana districts had received cows. These farmers were trained in animal husbandry, sustainable agricultural practices, exposure visits and input distribution. However, 12 cases of mortality were registered due to anaplasmosis while five cows were replaced because of low milk productivity. The high level of mortality that characterized the project in all participating districts brought questions about the efficacy of SARC veterinary extension services in promoting “passing on the gift” in the two districts.

Conceptual framework of factors influencing passing on the gift

Rural livestock farmers generally operate under resource-constrained conditions characterized by limited financial and physical capital (Brooks et al 2011). Various models have been used to understand the complexity of the rural farming environment, including the neoclassical economic and joint household decision making models (Taylor and Adelman 2003; Lee 2005; Doss 2006). While literature on rural household decisions on adoption of new technology abound, specific studies on the factors influencing choices of passing on livestock gifts are relatively few (De Vries 2011). Nonetheless, rural household behavioral models can still be used to understand farmers’ decisions in this regard. The limited physical and financial resources coupled with socio-demographic, cultural, economic, institutional and bio-physical conditions may help to shape farmers’ decisions to pass on the gift (Chilonda and Van Huylenbroeck 2001).

Socio-demographic factors, including age, education and gender are expected to influence farmers’ decision to pass on livestock gifts to others in the community. For instance, better educated farmers are more likely to use formal extension sources on animal husbandry (in this case SACR veterinary service) and therefore improving the probability of passing on the gift (Gebremedhin et al 2006). Since older male farmers generally attend extension meetings, they are likely to have a higher probability of passing on the gift when compared to women. A priori, farmers holding a positive attitude towards veterinary extension services are more likely to use such services for various aspects related to animal husbandry (Catley et al 2004). Feed availability enhances livestock growth, resilience against diseases and increasing the chances for survival (Bidoli et al 2012). Furthermore, it enhances the probability of calving among livestock. Higher income households are likely to have better access to animal health care services as well as veterinary drugs, increasing the likelihood of passing on the gift. This paper examined the socio-demographic factors affecting rural farmers’ decision to pass on the gift to other members of the community in Kayonza and Rwamagana districts of Rwanda. The analysis also considered the type and frequency of SACR veterinary extension services provided in the two districts.

Materials and methods

Description of study sites

SACR project was implemented in 11 districts including Gasabo, Kicukiro, Rwamagana, Kayonza, Kirehe, Bugesera, Nyanza, Huye, Gisagara, Nyaruguru and Rulindo. Due to limited financial resources faced by researchers, Kayonza and Rwamagana districts were randomly selected using random numbers from the sampling frame. Each of the 11 districts was assigned a random number and then a selection of two districts was conducted. Rwamagana district is located in Rwanda’s Eastern Province on an estimated surface area of 690 km2 (Rwamagana District Development Plan [DDP] 2013-2018). As of 2012, there were 310,238 people in 14 sectors of the district. Agriculture is the main economic activity done on predominantly loamy soils. The major crops grown include maize, pineapple, rice, banana and coffee (Rwamagana DDP 2013-2018). Tropical climatic conditions are conducive for crop and livestock production.

Kayonza district is also located in Eastern Province on a total land area of about 2,000km2 (Kayonza 2013). It is an agrarian district with main crops including beans, avocado, pepper and papaya while livestock include cattle, sheep and goats. The climate is tropical with a minimum and maximum temperature of 18 and 26 degrees Celsius respectively. Precipitation varies between 1000 and 2000mm per annum (Kayonza 2013). In 2012, Kayonza district had 346,751 people domiciled in 12 sectors (Kayonza District Gender Statistics Report 2013). The map of Kayonza and Rwamagana districts is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Map of Rwamagana and Kayonza districts (Rwanda Provinces maps 2012)
Population and sampling

Beneficiaries who received cattle were selected on the basis of a community-designed poverty assessment criteria and mostly included widows, orphan-headed households, those living with HIV/AIDS and disabled people (SACR Report 2009). There were 335 households that received cattle in Rwamagana district whereas 205 households had received both cattle and goats in Kayonza district. Furthermore, participants were members of local cooperative associations. Cooperatives in Kayonza district were Twiyubake, Ngwinurebe, Rukara and Giramata Kabarondo. In Rwamagana district, there were nine cooperatives, namely Abakundamurimo, Abakoranabushake, Ababerarugo, Dukorerigihugu, Imbarutso, Dushyigikirane, Twizerane, Tuzamurane-Muyumbu 1 and Duteraninkunga-Muyumbu II. Participants received training in areas of animal husbandry; organic farming and environmental protection before and after the animals were provided. In addition, they were assisted to construct sheds for livestock as a revolving loan. Other offered support was in the form of field visits, artificial insemination, pregnancy diagnosis, vaccination, dehorning and disease identification and control.

A multi-stage sampling framework consisting of three stages was used. In the first stage, two districts were randomly selected from 11 participating districts. The second stage involved proportionate allocation sampling to determine the number of people to interview in each cooperative. In the third stage, a random selection of members using lists in each cooperative was done. Using 540 participants as the sampling frame from the two districts, a sample of 82 respondents were selected guided by Kothari (1985).

Data-collection methods

A structured survey questionnaire was the main tool for collecting primary data. However, it was complimented by key informant interviews with the SACR extension staff as well as examination of farmer records. The questionnaire consisted of both open and closed ended questions focusing on socio-demographic data, SARC support activities, evaluation of received veterinary extension services, animal husbandry practices and access to livestock feeding regimes. A five-point Likert scale ranging from very good to very poor was used to rate the veterinary services offered by SACR, private and public extension workers. Key informant interviews with SACR extension staff included aspects related to extension services received by farmers through SACR staff in terms of production, animal husbandry, breeding, repayment of shed loans, passing on the gifts and animal health. Both the survey questionnaires and key informant interviews were in English but were later translated into Kinyarwanda, the vernacular language.


A combination of descriptive and inferential statistics was used to analyze the data. Categorical data variables such as education, marital status and age were summarized using frequencies and percentages while continuous variables, including age were summarized using means. To identify the factors that influence a given respondent’s transfer of the livestock gift, a binary logistic regression model was used. The dependent variable had a value of one if the beneficiary had passed on the gift to a secondary beneficiary (i.e. provided a calf) and zero - if he/she did not. Using the conceptual framework, it was hypothesized that this decision was influenced by a number of independent variables that include gender, education, age, frequency of SACR extension visits and farmers’ satisfaction with extension services. Other factors such as climatic conditions are also important in influencing feed availability and the occurrence of diseases (Degu 2012). Farmers in this study were faced with roughly similar climatic and disease conditions and this variable was not included in the econometric model. Following Wooldridge (2000) and Ramanathan (2002), the model was specified as follows:




Zi = probability of passing on the gift for the ith observation.

i = 1, 2,.. n observations.

β0 = a constant.

βi = regression parameters to be estimated.

Xi = set of independent variables.

Ui = error term.

Limitation of the study

According to central limit theorem, a larger sample size has a lower error (Gujarati and Porter 2009). Due to limited financial resources, a relatively small sample size was used which may have affected our parameter estimates.


Socio-demographic characteristics

A total of 50 respondents were interviewed in Rwamagana district while 32 farmers from Kayonza district where included in the survey. In terms of gender, 66% of the beneficiaries in Rwamagana were females and 34% were male. Similarly, 63% of the participants in Kayonza district were female whereas 37% were male. Women therefore accounted for two thirds of the number of interviewed households in both districts. The majority of beneficiaries domiciled in Rwamagana district were older than 50 years (48%) followed by those aged between 41 and 50 years (32%). Most respondents in Kayonza district were aged between 41 and 50 years (56%) while individuals aged above 50 years accounted for 25% of sampled households in the district. Most respondents were married (61%) and 34 % were widows and 5% were single. However, Rwamagana district had a greater percentage of widows participating in the SACR program (27%). In Rwamagana district, 72% had completed primary school and 20% never attended school. The remaining percentage had attempted three years after primary school but did not complete their studies. A comparable pattern in educational attainment was observed in Kayonza district where 72% had primary level education, 13% never attended school, 9% had three years of post primary education and the remaining proportion had secondary or vocational qualifications.

Characterization of veterinary extension activities

Several issues related to SACR veterinary extension services were considered including the types of support received, nature of training, alternative forms of veterinary extension that were accessible to farmers and farmers’ overall evaluation of the services received. On average, beneficiaries had stayed with their livestock for a period of five years and only 9% had experienced mortality. While all farmers had been trained by SACR, there was a large variation in terms the frequency of visits by SACR veterinary extension personnel. Each SACR veterinary extension worker had about 180 farmers in his/her jurisdiction and planned an average of nine farmer visits per day in their respective zones. About 56% of the farmers in Rwamagana district rarely received SACR based-veterinary extension support and the remaining 44% indicated receiving veterinary officers once every month. A higher percentage of livestock farmers (72%) rarely had access to the same services in Kayonza district and 19% had never seen a veterinary extension officer from SACR. About 68% of the livestock beneficiaries rated SACR based-veterinary extension services as either poor or very poor.

Two thirds of the respondents were trained in various facets of animal husbandry including fodder conservation (Table 1). The training programs were categorized into two sessions, namely pre- and post-handover topics on animal husbandry. The pre-handover training was conducted before the animal placement. After receiving the animals, farmers also received training in different areas of animal husbandry. The majoriry of beneficiaries in Rwamagana were trained only once per year (36%). However, a greater proportion were trained three times per year in Kayonza district (68%).

Table 1. Frequency of training recieved by livestock farmers

District (number and % in district)



Once per year

18 (36%)


Twice per year

9 (18%)

5 (16%)

Three times per year

14 (28%)

22 (68%)

Four times per year

9 (18%)

5 (16%)


50 (100)

32 (100)

As a result of the percieved inadequacy of veterinary extension services rendered, most farmers in Rwamagana (32%) and Kayonza (50%) sought the assistance of private veterinary agents (Table 2).

Table 2. Sources of veterinary assistance used by livestock farmers

District (number and % in district)



SACR veterinary extension

24 (48%)

2 (6.2%)

Sector veterinary extension

7 (14%)

10 (6.2%)

Private veterinary extension

16 (32%)

16 (50%)

Both SACR and sector veterinary extension

2 (4%)

2 (6.2%)

SACR and private veterinary extension


2 (6.2%)


50 (100)

32 (100)

Most farmers obtained information on veterinary drugs from local shop dealers (72%). Only 11% got advice from private extension workers. Typically, private and public extension workers conducted artificial insemination, disease control and general animal inspections.

Socio-demographic determinants of passing on the gift

About 27% of the farmers had passed on the gift while the remaining beneficiaries were still to do so. Table 3 indicates the results of a binary logistic regression model on the factors influencing farmers’ probability of passing on the gift to secondary beneficiaries.

Table 3 . Binary logistic regression results of factors influencing the probability of passing on the gift




Robust Standard
error (SE)




1-Male, 0-female






Age of respondent





Frequency of receiving SACR veterinary extension services

1-Rarely visited, 0-Otherwise





Primary education dummy

1-if completed primary level education, 0-Otherwise





Post primary education dummy

1-if completed post primary level education, 0-Otherwise





Level of satisfaction with SACR veterinary extension services

1-Yes, 0-Otherwise





Number of calving

Number of calves born





Feeding regime

1-Supplementary feeds, 0-Otherwise











The frequency of SACR veterinary extension services, farmers’ satisfaction with SACR veterinary extension services and the number of calves born had a positive and significant effect on the probability of passing on the gift to secondary beneficiaries (p<0 .05). However, gender, age, education and the feeding regime were statistically insignificant (p>0.05). Supplementary feeds involved the provision of maize crop residues and fodder from agro-forestry species such as napier grass in addition to allowing livestock to graze on natural pasture. Farmers who indicated that they received SACR veterinary extension services, though rarely, were 95% likely to pass on the gift compared individuals who had not received any kind of support, ceteris paribus. In addition, respondents’ positive perception of the overall quality of SACR veterinary services increased the probability of passing on the gift by 99%, holding other factors constant. Having an additional calf born increased the likely of passing on the gift by 8%, holding other factors constant. The Wald chi2 value for the model was 380 (p< < 0.05) implying that the model was valid.


Study outputs showed that most farmers had primary level of education, mostly women and above 50 years of age. These findings are consistent with EICV3 District level analysis which observed that close to 80% of the people in Kayonza and Rwamagana districts had attended some type of school. An understanding of the farmers’ socio-demographic environment is important since it has a bearing on household decision making related to livestock activities (Mehta and Heinen 2001; Tomićević et al 2010).

According to the SACR project framework, livestock recipients were required to pass on young stock to secondary beneficiaries as a way of sustaining the long term benefits for the community. While the process of passing on the gift had started among beneficiaries in Kayonza and Rwamagana districts, a large majority of them had not done so. This was despite the fact that all beneficiaries’ cows had at least 2 calves since the start of the project. Study findings suggested that the probability of passing on the gift would be increased by almost 100% if the frequency of veterinary extension was increased. This finding is in line with related studies that showed the centrality of veterinary extension in animal husbandry (Topps and Oliver 1993; Ngongoni et al 2006). Emphasis should, however, be placed on the quality SACR veterinary services (Turkson and Brownie 1999; Chapman and Tripp 2003; Ali et al 2011) because farmers were underserved considering that they were trained once to three times per year.

A large proportion of the beneficiaries (68%) were not satisfied with the level of veterinary extension services from SACR. This was mostly a result of the perceived inadequate veterinary support services. Farmer satisfaction with SACR is important since it is likely to influence their understanding of project. In this regard, it may be prudent to encourage frequent refresher training courses among SACR veterinary extension officers, who will in turn, train participants about the objectives of the project. Such an approach may help to build community trust and instill a positive image of SACR among rural farmers (Toledano and Lapinid 2010).

In view of long-term project sustainability, the depth and girth of SACR veterinary extension services may be also improved exploring complimentary services of community animal health workers (Mugunieri et al 2002; Catley et al 2004). The use of a broad range of veterinary extension services is consistent with the government of Rwanda’s animal production policy which reiterates the need for decentralizing animal health care and capacity building of animal health care providers (Butera and Rutagwenda 2004).

FindiFindings also indicated that calving enhanced the chances of passing on stock to other beneficiaries in the community. The concept of passing on the gift is dependent on calving rates among the livestock. However, calving is complex since it is affected by many factors including feed availability, artificial insemination and disease management (Chatikobo et al 2009). These aspects may be emphasized in SACR training programs for long-term sustainability.

Conclusions, recommendations and implications


The authors wish to acknowledge the help from local district offices in Rwamagana and Kayonza as well as the farmers who participated in the research.


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Received 20 July 2015; Accepted 8 August 2015; Published 1 September 2015

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