Starting with one former Team Member, Jenise Huffman, a project to help bring protein to Rwandans was born, and with it, the desire to help in other African countries. Jenise, through a corporate service fellowship with Millenium Promise, brought back what she learned and helped engage others in our company. Team Members Dave Juenger, a member of our team at subsidiary Cobb-Vantress, and Roy Brister, one of our experts on poultry nutrition with experience in live poultry production, soon traveled to sub-Saharan Africa with Jenise to learn about the agriculture practices there and how we might best help.

Jenise Huffman with children in a Rwandan village in 2008
Jenise Huffman with children in a Rwandan village in 2008

After careful research, the team decided an egg-laying operation would offer the most benefit. Jenise, Dave, and Roy helped develop the egg-laying operation in partnership with Ikiraro Investments in the north-central Musanze district of Rwanda. Construction of the laying-hen houses began in 2009, and the first flock was placed in early 2010. By late 2010, eggs were being produced and made available on the open food market, as well as being sold to preschools, hotels, and restaurants. The operation now provides valuable protein to the people there, especially the children – children whose health and future were limited by the lack of a nutritious diet. Dave and Bret Rings, a veterinarian for Cobb-Vantress, continue to support the program with technical service and regularly scheduled visits.

The farm now employs 19 Rwandans and has four houses, each with 2,500 laying hens. The farm produces an average of 31,500 eggs per week.The houses were built sequentially in 17-week intervals to provide a consistent flow of egg production throughout the year. About 7,500 eggs are supplied to OneEgg.org, which feeds children who attend child care centers one hard-boiled egg per day, five days a week. The remaining eggs (about 24,000 per week) are sold to small vendors in the area and to local food markets.

Through Jenise’s vision and the work of our Cobb-Vantress Team Members, we’ve now taken the next step in expanding this program, with the formal development of the Tyson Foods Fellows™ program.