Increasing the Resilience of Rwandan Agriculture

The Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze Activity was a five-year, $32.6 million USAID-funded activity that aimed to sustainably increase smallholder farmers’ income, improve the nutritional status of women of reproductive age (15-49) and children under two and increase the resilience of Rwanda’s agricultural and food systems to a changing climate. Hinga Weze was implemented by CNFA, the Rwanda Development Organization (RDO) and Imbaraga Farmers’ Federation.

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Learnings and Adaptations

From 2017-2022, Hinga Weze continuously evaluated and adapted it activities, particularly to integrate climate-sensitive and market-oriented approaches while enhancing productivity and improving household nutrition. During Hinga Weze’s final year of implementation, the team also collaborated with local partners to develop a series of learning briefs and events, showcasing Hinga Weze’s successful interventions and technical methodologies. Summaries of these key approaches can be found below.

Increasing Sustainable Agricultural Productivity

Advancing Digital Extension: Agriculture extension is one of the main activities that contribute to agriculture development. Hinga Weze coached farmers for the maximum adoption of promoted climate-smart and good agricultural practices through traditional extension methodologies involving in-field coaching and Farmer Field Schools approach. As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hinga Weze introduced activities for strengthening the digital extension in Rwanda. Hinga Weze collaborated with various partners including the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), Rwanda Agriculture and Animal resources Board (RAB), Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) and the Feed the Future Developing Local Extension Capacity (DLEC) Activity to design and implement activities including assessment of digital capacities of Rwanda agricultural extension workers, development of online professional extension modules for extension workers, development of digital extension learning tools and materials and piloting the use of digital extension. Learn more (link TBD)

Introducing Farm Service Centers: TBD

Combatting Fall Army Worm (FAW): TBD

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Expanding Farmers’ Access to Markets

Improving Access to Agricultural Finance: From 2017-2022, Hinga Weze Activity pursued agriculture financing-pulling factors that connected production, income and home consumption. The implementation of strategic interventions aimed at ensuring the increase of beneficiaries’/smallholder farmers’ yield and income, through a sustainable and affordable access to agriculture financing for enabling them to buy agricultural inputs (improved seeds, high quality fertilizers, pesticides, manure), micro-irrigation and post-harvest handling equipment, has led to potential actions that addressed the financing gaps for those providing agriculture loans and increased the bankability for those requiring financing. Learn more (link TBD)

Digitalizing Savings Groups: TBD

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Improving Nutritional Outcome of Agriculture Interventions

Enhancing Nutrition Education through Care Groups: Hinga Weze’s nutrition component, which also comprised the gender/women’s empowerment, Poultry Program, food safety/water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and Social Behavior Change (SBC) interventions, aimed to increase the use of household income to purchase nutritious foods, increase the consumption of diverse nutritious foods that address nutrition gaps and improve the food safety/WASH practices at farmer households. Nutrition education is an integral part of providing nutrition services to older persons with any set of learning experiences designed to facilitate the voluntary adoption of eating and other nutrition-related behaviors conducive to health and well-being. Hinga Weze did this education through creation of care groups which are peer-based health promotion programs that can quickly and effectively improve health behaviors and outcomes in low-resource communities in 10 districts of Rwanda. Learn more (link TBD)

Empowering Women through Gender Action Learning System (GALS) Approach: In collaboration with the Government of Rwanda (GoR) and local partners, Hinga Weze used a district-based approach to field implementation, a cost-effective approach to interventions and prioritized gender equality and female empowerment to achieve activity’s objectives.   CNFA and Plan International contracted Three Stones International to conduct a qualitative gender gap assessment in the 10 districts in 2018 to empower women to achieve the project indicator. The assessment findings showed that gendered beliefs about roles and responsibilities perpetuate inequalities in access to agricultural inputs, present barriers for reaping full benefits of agricultural outputs and hinder households from equitable, adequate, and nutritious food consumption. To address these gender gaps, CNFA contracted DUHARANIRA AMAJYAMBERE Y’ICYARO-Action pour le développement rural intégré (DUHAMIC-ADRI) to adapt the Gender Action Learning System (GALS) approach to the Hinga Weze context as a tool to empower women. GALS is a community-led empowerment methodology that uses principles of inclusion to improve income, food and nutrition security of vulnerable people in a gender-equitable way and bases its gender interventions on the evidence of agriculture as a pathway to building women’s empowerment. Learn more (link TBD)

Improving Nutrition and Incomes with Community Poultry Program: To support improved diets and nutrition, the Government of Rwanda plans to add 4 million chickens by 2023 to its poultry sector, which currently has about 7 million. Hinga Weze committed to contribute to this effort by collaborating with the Rwanda Agriculture Board to increase the production, market and consumption of chicken among its beneficiaries, including Sasso chickens, which produce more eggs and meat than other traditional breeds. They are also easy to grow for farmers at the household or care group level in order to improve their diets. The Poultry Program was initiated with a pilot phase in two districts (Bugesera and Nyabihu), then evolved to the activity’s other eight districts. It targeted 200,000 farmer households with low incomes and used a payback model where farmers who received chickens gave back chickens to others so that the Program reached as many farmers as possible and ensured the sustainability of the business model. Learn more (link TBD)

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Impact and Reach

560,000

households directly benefitted from increased agricultural production and improved nutrition

218,462

households increased yields by at least 50% over the baseline

2,310

hectares of land benefitted from improved soil and water management practices

Voices and Stories

FSC solution (TBD)

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Small-Scale Irrigation Technology Transforms Farmers' Lives in Rwanda

In Kayonza district, part of Rwanda’s drier Eastern province, smallholder farmers like Beata Mukanyirigira depend on reliable access to water and irrigation to improve their livelihoods and increase their yields and productivity.

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New Digital Solution Supports Smallholder Farmers and Savings Groups to Access Finance

Access to finance is one of the major barriers to increasing agricultural productivity for smallholder farmers in Rwanda. Bank branches are often located far from farmers’ homes, making it difficult for them to access the financial services needed to support and scale up their businesses.

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Poultry Farming Through Care Group Model Transforms Rural Livelihoods

Nutrition continues to be a major public health concern in Rwanda, with 38% of children under five classified as stunted and 9% of children under five manifesting as underweight. One significant contributor to stunting is a lack of dietary diversity among Rwandan children due to a lack of animal-source protein consumption, which can provide a variety of micronutrients that are difficult to obtain in adequate quantities from plant-source foods alone.

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Youth Engagement in Agriculture Improves Access to Digital Technology and Extension in Rwanda

In Rwanda, only 3.18 million out of 7.75 million individuals of working-age are employed, and the number has declined by more than 13 percent since August 2020. The agriculture sector also lost upwards of 47,000 jobs while the unemployment rate stayed relatively high at 25.5 percent among the youth population (National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda).

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Local Maize-Cob Model Reaps Benefits for Maize Growers

Typically, post-harvest handling processes for maize farmers in Rwanda are lengthy and done without adequate infrastructure. These inefficient post-harvest practices can lead to increased damage and post-harvest losses, particularly because of the presence of aflatoxins—a naturally occurring soil-borne fungus that contaminates many staple foods, especially maize and other cereals.

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Gender Action Learning System Approach Builds Stable Homes in Farming Communities

Although Rwanda has made tremendous progress in gender equality, low male engagement in domestic chores remains a challenge in many areas. Most affected by this phenomenon are rural communities across the country, including in Nyagisozi cell, Kageyo sector, in Gatsibo district where Illumine Gakuru resides.

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New Terraces Increase Crop Yields and Incomes for Farmers

Nyabihu district is renowned for its scenic hills and steep terrain, with an elevation estimated at 2,445 meters above sea level. However, for farmers like Seraphine Nyirarubanza, a resident of Rurembo sector, it is a daunting task to cultivate on the steep slopes. In this region of Rwanda, crops and fertile topsoil are frequently washed downhill by rain, causing reduced soil fertility and a decline in crop productivity.

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USAID Support to Farmers in Bugesera Promotes Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture

Didacienne Mukandaruhutse, a farmer, widow and mother of five, lives in a region of eastern Rwanda that faces constant drought. As a result, putting enough healthy, balanced and diversified food on the table to ensure her children had the required nutrients for healthy growth was difficult, as was supporting her family to cultivate their small plot of land.

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USAID Supports Farmer Education and Community Action to Combat Fall Armyworm in Rwanda

Bugesera, Karongi, Nyabihu and Ngororero districts are among the hardest-hit areas of the deadly Fall Army Worm (FAW) pest attacking maize. FAW is an invasive pest that can cause significant yield losses if not well managed.

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Post-Harvest Handling Practices Change Fortunes for Carrot Farmers

Situated in the Western Province of Rwanda, Nyabihu district has a very conducive climate for vegetable growing. One of the key vegetable crops grown in Nyabihu is carrots for sale to urban areas across Rwanda.

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Youth Interns Help Farmers Turn Poultry Farming into Business

Nutrition continues to be a major public health concern in Rwanda, with 38 percent of children under five being classified as stunted and nine percent of children under five manifesting as underweight (RDHS 2014-2015). One significant contributor to stunting is a lack of animal-source food protein consumption, which hinders dietary diversity among Rwandan children.

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