From beekeeping to turning waste into composted manure, to no-till farming among others; young Rwandans are embracing agroecology. Agroecology is an approach to sustainable farming and focuses on food production that makes the best use of nature’s resources while preserving them – for sustainable food systems. It is getting much attention as consumers are gradually being concerned about the choice of food they take, preferring healthy diets – organic foods. Richard Muhire, started beekeeping in 2018 in Rusizi District, with one beehive. His business gradually grew to 120 beehives as of today, from which he harvests two tonnes (2,000 kilogrammes) of raw honey per year. Bees are important to the production and quality of organic foods as they pollinate some crops while collecting nectar to make honey. Muhire sells a kilogramme of raw honey at Rwf3,500 to a local honey processing firm. I have a target to reach at least 1,000 beehives by 2024, he said. Although in Rwanda, beekeeping is a business mostly done by the old population, Muhire said that it has proven to be a potential opportunity even for the youth. He is one of the young people who have benefited from the Youth in Agroecology and Business Learning Track in Africa (YALTA Initiative). This is a three-year initiative – running from 2020 through 2022 – that aims to support young agripreneurs to apply agroecological principles and to co-create networks around them thereby contributing to increased sustainability of food systems and youth employment in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. The initiative is implemented by the Netherlands Food Partnership (NFP) with support from IKEA Foundation, with Three Mountains Academy being its host in Rwanda. He said that YALTA helped him to learn from other youths engaged in the business in different parts of the country including in the districts of Kirehe, Huye and Musanze, which enabled the exchange of good practices amongst them, and agroecology mentorship for improved yields. Before YALTA support, I used to harvest a beehive once a season and get some 10 kilogrammes of honey. But, thanks to YALTA interventions, I harvest a beehive about three times a season and get about 25 kilogrammes of honey, he said. Egide Nkurunziza has been engaged in zero tillage, also called no-tillage or no-till farming, in Bugesera district since 2020. This is an agricultural technique in which the crop is sown directly into the soil not tilled since the harvest of the previous crop – without disturbing the soil through tillage. The no-till farming provides good protection for the soil from erosion and helps retain moisture for the new crop such as through mulching. It ensures soil conservation. He said that the untilled land covered with mulch retain rain (water) which is beneficial to crop growth, especially during dry spells. Trials that were made on plots of land with 6 meters [of width] to 6 meters [of length] each, indicated that no-till farming was more productive than tillage farming, he indicated. He explained that for maize, 25 kilogrammes to 40 kilogrammes were produced using no-till technique on such a plot, while between eight kilogrammes and 25 kilogrammes were produced using the latter on the same piece of land. He indicated that YALTA provided him with mentorship and training in agroecology. I consider YALTA support very helpful to me... YALTA is doing mapping for farmers engaged in agroecology such that they become known at international stage and that the consumers who need organic farm products can get them from such farmers, he said. Beekeeping is one of the agribusiness areas that YALTA initiative supports to promote agroecology among the youth. Courtesy Noel Nizeyimana, Chief Executive of Greencare Rwanda Ltd based in Huge District, said that the companys existence was intended to solve the waste a management issue, by turning it into manure (for biodegradable waste) and pavers for plastic waste (by melting it and mixing it with sand) for construction purposes. The firm was created in 2016. Currently, it generates 600 tonnes (600,000 kilogrammes) of composted organic manure – called Grekompost – per year. It is packaged in bags of 50 kilogrammes each, with a kilogramme costing Rwf50 at the facility, according to Nizeyimana. This compost is needed especially by the farmers growing organic crops for export markets. The clients for this fertiliser are available. That is why we have a strategic plan to increase production to between 4,000 tonnes and 5,000 tonnes of composted manure per year by 2025, he said. He said that YALTA helped them in terms of honing their skills, networking and access to markets. YALTA initiative also hired him as a mentor who is capacitating other youths who are doing agroecology business-related waste recycling. Thacien Munyamaheme, YALTA Rwanda program manager said that to achieve sustainable food systems with solid business opportunities for youth, there is a need for connections with the right actors and for the development of viable business models supported by the proper financial solutions. “We conducted a study and found that the involvement of youth in agroecology is still limited while their involvement is crucial for the future. This is why our initiative brought a mentorship programme that focuses on building the capacity of youth aspired to agroecology business as well as financially supporting them through the business accelerator programme.