CoolCap is ready to change the way smallholder farming is done by putting an end to back-breaking labor in places like Kenya where people are farming with the same kinds of tools their ancestors used. We can significantly improve farmers’ lives, yields, and income by getting simple machines and leapfrog technology into their hands. On a large scale, this can reduce poverty and hunger.
When you ask our founder what inspired him to tackle these big problems, Roger Bird will tell you about one dairy farmer who chops grass with a machete all day to feed his two cows. He wants to change this farmer’s life.
Hand chopping grass for feed is a way of life for most dairy farmers in emerging economies. And it’s dangerous work. The farmers who hand chop feed with machetes all have cuts and scars on their hands and arms. There’s no avoiding it. Also, hand chopping feed is exceedingly hard work. It takes 4 to 6 hours of chopping every day just to feed a few cows. To make matters worse, it doesn’t provide the cows with particularly good nutrition.
For dairy cows to produce optimal amounts of milk, they need feed that’s both varied and well chopped. The more work a cow has to do to chew and digest feed, the more energy it expends. The more energy it expends, the less milk it produces.
The ideal feed for cows is produced not by hand but with a feed pulverizer. This equipment is relatively inexpensive (riding mowers in the US cost more) and it can absolutely change a smallholder farmer’s life. Cows that eat pulverized feed instead of hand chopped grass produce up to 30% more milk.
This increase in milk production equals significantly more income, which means the feed pulverizer will pay for itself through its use. This is what we look for in all of the equipment we support—appropriately-sized machines that are easy to use and will increase income enough to be paid off within a year and put money in the farmer’s pocket.
Our supplier, BrazAfric, sells a feed pulverizer that has multiple uses. In addition to vastly improving nutrition for their cows, farmers can also use it to mill corn flour for ugali (a polenta-like dish that’s a favorite in Africa). This decreases time spent in the field and in the kitchen. With more time, it’s amazing what hard-working smallholders can and will do, such as expanding operations, making farm improvements, and working side jobs.
One of the reasons Roger Bird founded CoolCap is because of his deep respect for farmers. “I’ve never met a more honest, hard-working, financially conservative group of people than farmers.” That’s why he’s spent his career finding ways to make financing work for them.
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