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No cow in Congo? Number of cattle in DRC revealed amid Ruto’s claim

By Brian Okoth | Mar 29th 2022 | 3 min read

Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto. [File, Standard]

Deputy President William Ruto on Tuesday, February 15, kicked up an online storm when he alleged that the Democratic Republic of Congo has insufficient milk supply.

Ruto was speaking in Nyeri County, where he promised to streamline the milk sector, saying if he is elected president in the August 9 General Election, he will negotiate for a milk market in the DRC.

He said his government would be able to produce three billion litres of milk, which would be sold locally and exported to countries in need, “such as the DRC”.

“In Congo, there are 90 million people, but they don’t have even one cow [for milk production]. I am talking about DRC, where there are very many known Rhumba musicians, including Kanda Bongo Man,” said the deputy president during a rally in Nyeri.

He also described the Congolese as “watu wanoavaa long’i kwa tumbo (they put on high-waist trousers)”.

A video of the DP making the remarks circulated on social media, catching the attention of the Senator for Haut-Katanga Province in DRC, Francine Muyumba, who described Ruto’s remarks as “an insult”.

Haut-Katanga Province Senator Francine Muyumba. [Courtesy]

“Mr. Vice Preisident @WilliamsRuto, this is really unacceptable, with all due respect there is a need to withdraw this statement. If DRC did not have a single cow, how could Kenya sign economic deals with DRC? @EquityBCDC is currently making money in Congo, this [is] an insult,” she tweeted on Tuesday.

The Standard has established that DR Congo has a fairly high number of livestock, contrary to DP William Ruto’s allegations.

A Demand Analysis Report on DRC published by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) shows that the country has at least 750,000 well taken care of cattle. The animals are mostly found in the eastern part of DRC.

World Data Atlas shows that in 2020 alone, one cow produced an average of 9,008 hg/an (900.8 litres) of milk.

That means, half of the 750,000 cattle in DRC, assuming they are dairy animals, collectively produced at least 337.8 million litres of milk.

The USAID report also shows that the country has 4.1 million goats, 910,000 sheep, one million pigs, and 2.1 million poultry.

“The animals are housed and receive satisfactory feeding and veterinary care,” the report says.

USAID further state that livestock farmers in DR Congo practice either traditional or modern intensive farming.

“The DRC has two types of farming in livestock production the first, which is the most widespread, is the traditional farming, especially of small livestock (goats, sheep and pigs). The animals are bred without shelter and without veterinary care. The second is the modern intensive farming carried out by missionaries and some private farms.”

Meat production

The report indicated that in 2012 alone, the country produced 255 million kilograms of meat for consumption.

“The National meat production was estimated at 255,000 tonnes in 2012; obtained from pigs (25,900 tonnes), goats (19000 tonnes), cattle (12,000 tonnes), poultry (11,500 tonnes) and sheep, (2,900 tonnes).”

In the DRC, agriculture employs about 70 per cent of the population, and produces 40 per cent of GDP. It has been estimated that the country has over 120 million hectares of land suitable for farming, but only an estimated 10 per cent of the land is currently being used.

Most of the available agricultural land is found in the plateaus of the Katanga region in the south-eastern part of the country. Wheat, beans, potatoes and cash crops (coffee, tea and quinine) are grown in the eastern regions (Ituri and North Kivu provinces).

Rice, grain legumes, cereals and cotton are cultivated in Maniema and other central provinces.

Shifting cultivation is practised in the Northern provinces. Farmers of the mountainous areas, in the east and northeast of the country, cultivate sugarcane, potatoes, tea and coffee.

The major crops in terms of value are cassava, plantains, banana, mangoes, maize, groundnuts, roots and tubers.

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