Rwanda: How Rural Women Are Helping to Improve Food Security

21 October 2019

A section of rural women in Bugesera District are food secure after increasing the productivity of bio-fortified beans that are rich in iron and other nutrients.

Prior to the current state of affairs, the family of Emma Marie Muhayimana and Elphaze Kayigamba was not food secure due to poor seeds of beans and poor agricultural practices.

"We were growing poor seeds of beans on 0.5 hectares where we used to harvest only 300 Kilogrammes. We used to face food security issues and we could not satisfy all children's needs such as paying school fees for them," she said.

The family has four children and thanks to growing iron-rich beans and doubling productivity, it beat food insecurity and malnutrition.

"In the beginning, we got support in the form of 70 Kilogrammes of Iron-rich beans seeds. The production on 0.5 hectare has since increased from 300 Kilogrammes to over 1 tonne of beans per season," she said.

Muhayimana is one of the smallholder farmers in 10 districts of the country who planted bio-fortified beans whereby a 40 metric tonnes of seeds were distributed in the districts of Bugesera, Nyamasheke, Nyamagabe, Karongi, Rutsiro, Ngororero and Nyabihu Gatsibo, Ngoma, Bugesera and Kayonza.

"We planted the seeds with suitable manure and chemical fertilizers. We managed to pay school fees for two children in high school and expanded tillable land to three hectares," she said.

The farmer has now managed to pay tuition fees for herself at college of Education, University of Rwanda by using the income from growing beans.

The farmer is one of 200,000 farmers who are to benefit from increased yields under the support of the government in partnership with Hinga Weze project.

The project seeks 560,000 households to have increased agricultural production and improved nutrition.

Jean Claude Musabyimana, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), said that Bugesera District is one of the areas affected by drought and needs to adopt improved agricultural practices to increase productivity.

"We are even distributing food for affected households. That is why you have to plant better seeds such as Iron-rich beans to improve food security. We give you such seeds for free," he said.

He urged the rural farmers to also refer to subsidized irrigation scheme to cope with drought.

"We subsidize irrigation equipment at 50 per cent and that is why we urge you to plant improved seeds, fertilizers but also plan for irrigation in case of drought," he said.

He added that a new strategy has been set up to engage more women and youth in agriculture.

Leslie Marbury, USAID's Acting Mission Director said that that the beans varieties will eradicate malnutrition especially among children and women.

She said that they have also distributed rainwater harvesting tanks to women farmers groups whose savings from agribusiness have amounted to high so as to cope with water shortage as well as bicycles to transport agricultural produce.

According to Richard Mutabazi, the Mayor of Bugesera District said the women are also linked to the market.

In order to cope with climate change and food insecurity, the women also plant fruit trees, form savings groups and irrigate by using solar-powered energy, he said

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