NGOMA FARMERS have started reaping from a drive by district authorities to encourage fruit growing to improve households' incomes and reduce malnutrition among rural communities.
"Since the district started promoting fruit growing, production and farmers' living standards have been increasing. Therefore, our efforts to ensure that there are fruits throughout the year, to satisfy the market and boost farmers' incomes, are paying off," Aphrodis Nambaje, the Ngoma District mayor, said while addressing residents of Rukumberi District yesterday.
He said rural farmers were growing a variety of fruits, which had boosted their standards of living and reduced malnutrition in the area.
Nambaje noted that the district was helping the farmers learn new agricultural technologies to improve crop production. The farmers grow pineapples, mangoes, pawpaw, avocado, oranges and guavas.
Jean d'Amour Ndahayo, a farmer, said he was happy that they were, for the first time, engaged in a profitable farm activity.
"We have been struggling to pay school fees for our children, but since we started growing pineapples, we have managed to send two of our six children to boarding schools," he said.
"Compared to the crops such as coffee and beans, growing fruits is profitable and has more potential."
The farmers said apart from the fruit crops maturing in six months, they have an added advantage of continuous harvesting.
"Training in fruit production and management proved an eye-opening experience for rural farmers. They also now appreciate the importance of fruit in our diet," the Mayor noted.
"Fruits are a good source of vitamins and mineral salts without which the body cannot stay healthy or have the immunity to resist diseases," he said.
"Today, the number of malnourished children under-five years of age has drastically reduced because of availability of different fruits in our village," said Ndahayo while explaining the impact fruit growing has had on his community.
Promoting fruit growing is part of the government's agriculture transformation and features in Rwanda Vision 2020.