National Geographic Blog: Rabbit-fish farm wins contest of ideas to develop rural Africa
By David Braun, Head of National Geographic Daily Online News, December 3, 2009
A project that combines backyard rabbit-keeping with fish farming, produces affordable protein, and provides the means to keep children in school, is the winning idea in a competition to find solutions to rural Africa's most pressing challenges.
Jacky Foo of Stockholm, Sweden, won the U.S.$20,000 grand prize of Africa Rural Connect, an online contest that drew some 10,000 participants over four months.
The competition was organized by the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA), a charity that connects, informs and engages returned U.S. Peace Corps volunteers, former Peace Corps staff and friends of Peace Corps committed to fostering peace through service, education and advocacy.
NPCA launched Africa Rural Connect (ARC) this summer as an online community to stimulate collaborative thinking to generate ideas to help solve rural Africa's greatest challenges, the charity said in a statement.
"Our judges spent several days deliberating on the final ideas to ultimately select the $20,000 grand prize winner," said Molly Mattessich, manager of Africa Rural Connect and a former Mali Peace Corps Volunteer. "Foo's winning idea will serve to inspire others to develop effective and innovative ways to help remedy the continent's agricultural issues, from the ground up."
Jacky Foo (far left) with participants in the rabbit farming project. Photo courtesy of Jacky Foo, via NPCA
Foo's idea, called the Ndekero challenge, is to develop a community rabbit-keeping system that can work in partnership with a rabbit agri-business farm, NPCA said.
"He will implement the project in the small town of Ndekero in Meru, Kenya through Globetree in Sweden, where Foo is a program officer for environment and sustainable development."
A rabbit farm will be established at the 30-acre farm of the Nazareth Sisters to produce 100 kilograms of rabbit meat every month. Foo will provide part-time, income-generating jobs to several parents in the community so their children can continue going to school instead of dropping out to help the family earn money to cover basic necessities, NPCA said.
The proposed farm will trade adult rabbits for weaned rabbits bred in cages kept by the surrounding community. The rabbit farm will be surrounded by a moat to keep the rabbits in and predators out. The water barrier will be used to breed two kinds of edible fish.
Rabbits multiply quickly and their meat is considered to be healthy for human consumption.
Illustration courtesy of Jacky Foo, via NPCA
If this project works it will provide an agri-business that generates jobs, food, and subsidize the education of the community's children.
Mattessich and other representatives from ARC, along with Foo, will hold a press conference later this month in Nairobi, Kenya to highlight some of the ideas generated from the contest and discuss current issues facing rural Kenya and sub-Saharan Africa.
"This has been a competitive contest and we received so many great ideas on how to improve agricultural development in Sub-Saharan Africa," Mattessich said. "While the contest is over, the Africa Rural Connect online community is just beginning and we hope people will continue posting their ideas well into the New Year."
Source: NatGeo News Watch
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