In one of the world’s poorest countries – where a cow is worth more than double the average rural family home – a former pig farmer from South Australia has established a bovine bank as a pathway from poverty to prosperity.
Proudly supported by Manildra Group, Cows For Cambodia has grown to become the largest agricultural charity in the adopted home of Andrew Costello, following his first visit in 2011 on a break from his TV travel show, South Aussie with Cosi.
Using his agricultural degree and 16 hectares purchased in the South East Asian country, Mr Costello established the bovine breeding project to give the life-changing gift of a calf to impoverished rural families, who care for pregnant cows under a loan contract that supports them throughout the process.
“It instantly breaks the poverty cycle for that family,” said Mr Costello of the value of the cow – worth an income stream out of reach to most in rural Cambodia, still recovering from the murder and starvation of an estimated two million people under the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975-1979.
Along with teaching techniques in animal husbandry, Mr Costello has further negotiated to grow a highly nutritious African grass under irrigation as an alternative feed for stock, and sources genetically superior quality cattle from Australia’s Top End, in working towards his vision of handing over the whole project to Cambodians to run as a profitable enterprise, to help educate local farmers about handling and breeding their own stock.
The charity has also branched out into infrastructure and free education for children, enlists the help of volunteers on holidays with Mr Costello – including handing out tonnes of rice to those struggling to buy food – and recently launched in Africa.
Manildra Group Managing Director John Honan said Mr Costello’s ‘hand-up not hand-out’ approach was helping to break the poverty cycle in one of the world’s poorest nations.
“Cosi and his team are bringing hope, freedom and life to rural Cambodian communities,” Mr Honan said.
“In addition to providing secure income and free education, Cows for Cambodia provides the experience of a lifetime on special days out for many people who have never been in a car, visited the movies or even seen clear water.”
Find out more or support Cows for Cambodia at cowsforcambodia.com. More information on Manildra Foundation’s support for Australian charitable and community initiatives is at manildra.com.au/manildra-foundation.