Congolese cavies

by Jeremy Cherfas on February 16, 2010

I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop, ever since CIAT’s ace snapper Neil Palmer posted his great shots of guinea pigs in the Congo some months back. Finally, it has, with a long post about CIAT’s project More chicken and pork in the pot, and money in the pocket: improving forages for monogastric animals with low-income farmers. You’ll notice at once that guinea pigs are neither pork nor chicken.1 In fact, they weren’t in the original project at all. But they were in the project’s target area.

Small and easy to conceal, guinea pigs are well-suited to DRC’s conflict zones, where extreme poverty and widespread lawlessness means that the looting of larger domestic livestock is commonplace. …

“We’re not sure exactly how guinea pigs got to DRC,” said CIAT forage scientist Brigitte Maass, “but they have enormous potential to improve rural livelihoods there.”

The post goes on to explain just how guinea pigs work well in the Congo to offer people a measure of food security, and how the project scientists intend to improve that still further. Nice to be able to embrace something new midstream.

“None of the scientists had contemplated guinea pigs as an option in DRC when the project started. Now they really could turn out to be indispensable.”

Footnotes:
  1. Although, of course, they taste like chicken. Everything unfamiliar — alligator, rattlesnake — tastes like chicken. []
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