Rwanda has been pushing for a shift from subsistence farming practices toward modern farming as one of the strategies to ensure sustainable food production, as well as improve farmers’ livelihoods through increased income from agro-activities. This is important since over 72 per cent of the population depends on the sector for a living.
For Marie Nyiraneza, 61, agriculture had always been a subsistence occupation. She never imagined that she could comfortably live off farming and even manage to save and invest in other economic activities.
“I practiced traditional farming, crowding my garden with all kinds of crops—sorghum, sweet potatoes, maize, and soya, and yields were always low,” said Nyiraneza, who lives in Runga, Nyanza District. “Oftentimes there wasn’t enough to feed my family through to the next season.”
Then, through two agriculture projects, the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) expanded the radical terraces in Runga villages to stabilize the hillside, trained farmers in modern farming technics and built irrigation infrastructures.
The impact to the lives of the farmers was almost instantaneous. For Nyiraneza, her yields tripled, and the quality of her produce improved considerably. Where she used to harvest only 100kg of beans, she started getting one ton of good quality beans.
Today, Nyiraneza is a proud owner of eight jersey cows that earn her RWF 400,000 (about $436) per month from the sale milk and compost. This is in addition to the income she gets from her irrigated gardens, which draw water from the Nyanza dam built by the project. Her four children have completed secondary school and her oldest son is in his final year of the university.
Surrounded by banana plants, maize and soya bean gardens, with a kraal at the side of her courtyard, her environment speaks to her unwavering commitment to pull herself out of poverty.
“I am food secure and financially stable,” she said. “Thanks to the training I received, and the practical experience I gained, I can comfortably say I have acquired lifelong skills and confidence.”
From RYAF Communication Team