Agro-forestry project to improve food security launched in Kigali

A five-year project to improve food security and small-holder farmers’ livelihoods in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda has been launched by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Kigali.

The project is dubbed “Developing integrated options and accelerating scaling up of agroforestry for improved food security and resilient livelihoods in Eastern Africa.

In Rwanda, it will be implemented in Bugesera and Nyabihu districts, targeting to improve the livelihoods of 110,000 rural people.

It is supported by Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), World Vision, University of Rwanda, and Urugaga Imbaraga, farmers’ cooperative.

The project is in its second phase following the winding down of the first phase implemented since 2012, under funding from Australian Centre for International Research (ACIAR).

Tony Bartlett, forestry research programme manager at the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, said the project would help Rwanda scale up locally appropriate agro-forestry systems.

“We are conducting research to understand the interactions between crops and trees grown by farmers. We are also working out how to effectively get information about agro-forestry systems communicated to farmers in those districts, to help them make decisions about adapting these agro-forestry systems,” he said last week.

He added that they have centres in two locations where farmers can go and learn how to propagate tree seedlings, understand what they need to do to manage the trees on their farms in order to get the best outcomes to support their livelihoods.

It is expected to reach more farmers as well as scale up the work done in the first phase.

Patrick Karangwa, the head of research department at Rwanda Agriculture Board, said the project will help famers by providing organic matter, and improving soil texture.

“This project is in the line with government policies to increase agriculture productivity. It will complement our efforts in distributing to farmers fertilisers and seeds. This is a major component where the soil texture is improved as well as soil erosion controlled,” Karangwa said.

George Gitau, Country Director of World Vision Rwanda, said that together with the Government of Rwanda and ICRAF, they have designed and implemented food security and resilience programmes aimed at impacting the lives of the rural population.

He said that trees for food security project are among projects through which World Vision is improving resilience and livelihoods of many smallholder farmers in Bugesera District.

“We have built capacities of many farmers around agro-forestry technologies such as tree grafting, which is generating money for them,” he said.

Joseph Desire Rugerero, from Nyabihu District, said, as a farmer, he now knows the importance of agro-forestry.

“The trees protect the soil and in return it is able to yield more crops.This is different from the past when we didn’t have any idea,” he said.