Heifer Project International is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping poor families around the world receive training and gifts of animals that help them become self-reliant. Their CEO, Pierre Ferrari, delivered a couple of lectures on the Texas A&M campus last week.
“This organization was founded by a dairy farmer, and what he wanted to do was actually transfer pregnant heifers to families, so that they received the animal including training, and then soon thereafter they got another animal, obviously from the pregnant heifer, and they were able to pass that animal on, especially if it was a female calf, to another family so that propagation, this passing on the gift process, essentially helped alleviate poverty.”
Ferrari said the Heifer Project is active in 42 countries.
“The main thrust is in countries that have extremely poor farmers, so these very poor farming communities tend to be isolated. They can be even on the hillsides or into the mountainous areas, so we work in the Americas, in Africa and Asia, and we have some programs in Eastern Europe, but always with extremely isolated and poor farming communities, whose nutritional status and income status is very, very low.”
Over time the seventy-year old Heifer Project International has expanded to provide community training tools, agricultural tools, livestock, and training to enhance poor farmers’ capability for production and income generation. We were surprised at what constituted a well off farmer in Africa.
“A located farmer would probably have something, maybe five acres, maybe four or five cows, a flock of maybe twenty to twenty-five hens. That would be a well off farmer.”
We asked if the mountain ever seemed too tall to climb.
“So at a personal level, every single person you help, you’ve helped everybody. And I know that’s a very esoteric and spiritual statement, but I really believe that, and I would like to do it at scale. We’re going to try to do it at scale, but I’m very comfortable with helping one person, and I think we’re helping, I know we’re helping millions of people now.”