About 200,000 smallholder farmers in 10 districts of the country are anticipating high yields this season following the planting of bio-fortified beans that are rich in iron and other nutrients.
A total of 40 metric tonnes of seeds were distributed in the districts of Nyamasheke, Nyamagabe, Karongi, Rutsiro, Ngororero and Nyabihu.
Others are Gatsibo, Ngoma, Bugesera and Kayonza.
The beneficiaries are smallholder farmers in selected sectors in the 10 districts identified by local authorities to be most in need of assistance.
The bio-fortified beans were distributed by Hinga Weze, a USAID and Feed The Future Activity, a project that seeks to sustainably increase smallholder farmers’ income.
The programme is part of a partnership with Rwanda Agricultural Board and the Ministry of Agriculture, also geared at improving nutritional status of women and children while increasing resilience of Rwanda’s agricultural and food systems to a changing climate.
During a seasonal launch for 2018 farming season B, a ceremony was organised at Murundi site in Kayonza District on Wednesday, where farmers and leaders participated in an exercise to plant high-iron beans and orange-fleshed sweet potato vines.
These are two of the value chains being promoted under the project together with maize, Irish potatoes, and horticulture.
At the event, Kayonza District vice mayor in charge of Social Affairs, Jean Damascene Harerimana, underscored the importance of planting nutritious foods.
“We need to adopt better farming practices, and improve our yields in order to curb the high rate of stunting recorded among children in Murundi Sector,” he said.
From improved yields, the smallholder farmers benefitting from the programme are expected to have improved income to be able to purchase nutritious foods, according to officials.
One of the residents, Marie Nyiranteziryayo, expressed optimism.
“I prepared my garden in time and was able to learn from farmer promoters how to plant the new varieties for my family to have enough nutritious foods. I am optimistic about my harvest this season.’’
The target for Hinga Weze project for the next five years is to ensure 560,000 households have increased agricultural production and improved nutrition, while 200,000 farmers are to benefit from increased yields.