Rwanda seeks to maximize cows value chain in medicines and car seats

Just like the cows belonging to Kenyan herders were sold last month, the cattle will be auctioned. Image courtesy: ASL

A new scheme dubbed, ‘Cow in the Car, that seeks to leverage science and technology to get more returns from cowhides, horns, and fats, is set to help improve Rwanda’s livestock value chain.

FILE PHOTO: Ankole-long-horned-cows./Getty Images

The project is being spearheaded by the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA) with support from Eastern and Southern Africa Trade and Development Bank (TDB), and the OCP Group, a Moroccan fertilizer manufacturing company.

Officials say the idea is to maximize the number of products along the cow’s value chain.

For instance, they said, the Volkswagen cars assembled in Rwanda will be fitted with the leather from processed hides of cows bred in the country.

Additionally, cow body parts can be processed to produce medical insulin.

“From a cow’s pancreas, we can manufacture insulin (medication) for people with diabetes. And there is a large number of people who are diabetic not only in Rwanda but across Africa and the world over, yet there is a shortage of insulin around the world,” Frannie Léautier, an executive from TDB, formerly PTA Bank

To illustrate her point, Léautier, who was speaking at the launch of the project in Kigali, observed that that 10 hides can make all the seats for a car.

Image of genuine Italian cowhide seats.
Photo courtesy: The Wheeler’s Auto

“One of the ideas is to think about how the leather value chain can be improved to give high-quality leather products,” she added.

Léautier explained that the horns and bones of cows can be used to make ornaments and jewelry as well as fancy dashboards for vehicles.

So many of the body parts are then dumped as waste, yet can be processed into viable products.

For fats, they can be used to produce rubber for car tyres, Léautier noted.

And, for those interested in investing in the project, there are interest-free loans available.


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