USAID support to farmers in Bugesera promotes nutrition sensitive agriculture
Didacienne Mukandaruhutse (60) a farmer, widow and mother of five (4 daughters and a son) has faced her fair share of difficulties having lived in a region of the eastern province of Rwanda that faces constant drought. Putting enough food on the table for her family, balanced and diversified, is difficult and ensuring that her children have the required nutrients for healthy growth and strength to support in cultivating her small land is a constant challenge.
Didacienne’s ray of hope came when she was mobilized together with other farmers in Bugesera District, Rukumberi Sector to attend trainings on adopting good agriculture practices to improve nutrition for women and children and adopting practices resilient to harsh climate change.
“Acquiring knowledge by practice about Maternal Infant and Young child nutrition was a life-time eye opener for me and my community as well as my children, we now know that, it is possible to ensure proper nutrition for a smallholder farmer with limited production’’ Didacienne said with a smile.
Whenever she needed nutritious vegetables, she would have to buy from the market not knowing it could easily be done in her compound. “Establishing a home garden was made simple because the community trainers who trained us did it practically with us- so we learnt by doing,’ ’she narrated.
The technical knowledge provided to Didacienne together with other farmers in 10 districts of Rwanda was made possible through the Feed the Future program of Hinga Weze which aims to sustainably improve agricultural productivity, increase smallholder farmers’ income, improve nutritional status of Rwandan women and children. The practical trainings focus on helping farmers acquire skills and implement initiatives that transform their perceptions on nutrition-sensitive activities.
Hinga Weze operates its activities in 10 districts and the nutrition activity has trained farmers in essential nutrition concepts, maternal feeding practices, optimal complementary feeding practices, cooking practices and the establishment of kitchen or home gardens to diversify diet at the household level, including basic budgeting principles to increase consumption of nutrition foods. Hinga Weze aims to reach a 40% increase in the percentage of children 6-23 months receiving a minimum acceptable diet (MAD), and a 40% increase in the prevalence of women of reproductive age (15-49) consuming targeted nutrient-rich value chain crops.
In the last three months, Hinga Weze has trained 17,912 households on nutrition sensitive agriculture through Farmer Field School (FFS) and Community Farmer promoters (FPs). In addition, 1,484 home gardens were established and Hinga Weze distributed vegetable seeds (carrots, beetroots, red and yellow onions, cabbages, amaranths, spinach) and fruit seeds (watermelon) as part of the support to the household level benefitting 200 farmers who received improved seeds. One of the beneficiaries for this support was Didacienne.
“I look forward to saving money which I used to buy vegetables for my family as well as having the dietary requirements from my home garden which I planted after acquiring knowledge on proper nutrition,” she shared.