SPRINGDALE, Ark. – August 17, 2011 – A project to improve protein consumption for many Rwandans, especially for children whose early development is directly affected by their diets, is now producing about 2,200 eggs per day.
Half the children in Rwanda are chronically malnourished and at least 22 percent of the country’s households are considered food insecure, according to the World Food Programme. The diet of most in the central African country is carbohydrates – mostly potatoes and rice – with very little protein. According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee in 2010, “proteins are the most important macronutrient in the diet because they provide both essential amino acids and are a source of energy. They are particularly important during growth and development.”
In 2008, former Tyson team member Jenise Huffman began working on a corporate service fellowship with Millennium Promise, a non-profit organization aimed at ending extreme global poverty. From her work evolved a hunger relief initiative involving Tyson Foods, Inc., Tyson subsidiary Cobb-Vantress Inc., and Memphis entrepreneur Tom Phillips, through his Ikiraro Investments.
The goal was to help Rwandans develop a commercial, self-sustaining farm project that would help feed protein to the population.
Research by Tyson and Cobb employees assigned to the project indicated the most “affordable, storable and deliverable” type of protein they could help Rwandans produce was eggs. Plans were then made to build a program around laying hens.
Ikiraro Investments purchased and donated land in the north-central Musanze district of Rwanda, while employees of Cobb-Vantress and Tyson Foods supplied technical assistance and training to locals for building design, flock management and egg production. Tyson and Cobb have no financial investment in the project.
“If there’s anything a company the size of Tyson Foods, or Cobb for that matter, truly has to offer, it is knowledge,” said Dave Juenger, director of support services for Cobb-Vantress. Knowledge is easily shared and is one of the most effective, efficient ways the company can use its resources, he said.
Construction of an egg laying operation began in 2009 and the first flock was placed in early 2010. By late 2010, eggs were being produced and made available on the open food market, as well as being sold into schools and some clinics.
To date, four different flocks have been placed, and the entire operation employs 17 people. About 2,000 eggs per week are supplied to OneEgg.org, which feeds children who attend child care centers one hard-boiled egg per day, five days a week. The remaining eggs (about 13,400 per week) are sold to vendors who resell the eggs at local food markets.
“Two of us from Cobb were in Rwanda in early August and the progress being made by the Rwandans in charge of the farm is outstanding,” Juenger said. “They continue to prove their willingness and ability to learn and apply the shared knowledge over the last two years. This initiative has been life changing to many people in that area and has set new expectations on their ability to make a difference. It will definitely have a positive long term impact on the community.”
“It’s everlasting,” Juenger said of teaching people to source their own food, “because what you do is teach generations how to help themselves.”
About Tyson Foods
Tyson Foods, Inc. (NYSE: TSN), founded in 1935 with headquarters in Springdale, Arkansas, is one of the world's largest processors and marketers of chicken, beef and pork, the second-largest food production company in the Fortune 500 and a member of the S&P 500. The company produces a wide variety of protein-based and prepared food products and is the recognized market leader in the retail and foodservice markets it serves. Tyson provides products and services to customers throughout the United States and more than 90 countries. The company has approximately 115,000 Team Members employed at more than 400 facilities and offices in the United States and around the world. Through its Core Values, Code of Conduct and Team Member Bill of Rights, Tyson strives to operate with integrity and trust and is committed to creating value for its shareholders, customers and Team Members. The company also strives to be faith-friendly, provide a safe work environment and serve as stewards of the animals, land and environment entrusted to it.
Cobb-Vantress, Inc. is a poultry research and development company engaged in the production improvement and sale of broiler breeding stock. Cobb is the world’s oldest pedigree broiler breeding company. Cobb has grown from 1916 into one of the world’s leading suppliers of broiler breeding stock with distribution in 100 countries. Cobb has contributed to the dynamic efficiency and growth of an industry that has transformed chicken into an economically affordable healthy protein source for many of the world’s almost 7 billion people.
About Ikiraro Investments
Tom Phillips of Memphis, Tenn., established Ikiraro in 2009 to serve as an investment holding company to build operating businesses in Rwanda. In 2010, Ikiraro Farms launched a poultry business in Musanze to produce as many as 7,000 chicken eggs a day. Tyson Foods has served as Ikiraro’s technical advisor on the poultry business. Ikiraro has also partnered with Dr. Caleb King to develop mini-hydro power projects in Rwanda’s Northern Province.