Working with the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada, we’ve started a 5-year project to increase production and improve project management in 15 Rwandan farm co-operatives. We’re very excited. The project will directly benefit more than 22,000 households, and indirectly benefit 132,000 individuals.
In spite of recent economic growth, more than half of Rwandans live below the poverty line. The rural population is most effected by poverty, with food insecurity remaining a significant threat. Although farming makes up 90% of the rural labour force, it is under-productive and at risk from environmental stresses.
There are three ways we plan to help. First, the project will increase food availability by helping small-scale farmers to improve the quality and quantity of food they produce. This will be done through education and hardier crops. Households will also be encouraged to raise small animals using zero grazing techniques. This will contribute to household nutrition and provide fertilizer for crops.
The second objective will be to increase farmer incomes. Increasing the amount of quality food produced (the first objective) will translate into higher market prices and profits which will allow farmers access to more processing technologies. The project will also introduce non-agricultural activities to improve household incomes.
The final objective is to reduce households’ ongoing vulnerability to food insecurity by increasing their resilience to shocks and stresses. Improved cultivation techniques, small-scale irrigation, natural resource management and storage facilities will protect farmers from some environmental challenges. In the home, resilience will focus on strengthening financial planning, and reducing inequalities that constrain full participation of women in household economic activity. Co-operative resilience will focus on strengthening governance and management so that they better represent and promote the interests of farmers.
Implemented in 2012, the project has had a promising start. We look forward to bringing back success stories, and sharing the positive results our combined efforts will have on the community.