April 13, 2024

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RWARRI and Partners launch Hinga Ukire Project to support smallholder farmers in Western Part of Rwanda

By Olivier Mukwaya

In a bid to boost agricultural productivity and improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Rwanda, the Rwanda Rural Rehabilitation Initiative (RWARRI) has partnered with various organizations to launch the Hinga Ukire Project. This project, funded by the European Union, aims to support farmers in Rubavu District and Rutsiro District by promoting the cultivation of biofortified crops such as beans, cassava, and sweet potatoes.

The launch of the Hinga Ukire Project comes at a crucial time when food security is a pressing issue in Rwanda, especially in rural areas where many smallholder farmers struggle to produce enough food to feed their families. By promoting the cultivation of biofortified crops, the project aims to not only increase productivity but also improve the nutritional value of the crops grown by farmers.

Speaking at the launch event, RWARRI Executive Director, Uwizeye Belange, emphasized the importance of supporting smallholder farmers in the targeted districts.

He said that ” The Hinga Ukire Project will provide them with the necessary support and resources to improve their productivity and ultimately improve their livelihoods,”.

“Over the course of four years, this project aims to decrease malnutrition in children under five by 5%, while also increasing production by 30%. This will involve 15,525 farmers planting beans on 4,500 hectares, cassava on 900 hectares, and sweet potatoes on 810 hectares.” Uwizeye said.

The project will provide farmers with training on best agricultural practices, access to high-quality seeds and fertilizers, and technical support to help them improve their crop yields.

Uwamungu Esperance, a seed multiplier from the Mushubati sector, expressed that the sweet potato seeds they have received are rich in vitamins. This will help them combat malnutrition and enhance their social and economic development.

In addition to consuming nutritious food, they will also generate income by selling the produce. Uwamungu stated, “With these sweet potato seeds, I will multiply them to share with others in the fight against child stunting. These sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A, which aids in preventing blindness and promoting healthy growth in children under five years old. Not only will we benefit from these nutrients at home, but we will also earn money by selling at the market.”

Nduwumuremyi Athanase, Coordinator of the Roots and Tubers Program, as well as a Senior Research Fellow and Cassava breeder at the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resource Development Board (RAB), emphasizes the importance of addressing malnutrition in the districts surrounding Lake Kivu by focusing on improving daily food consumption.

He encourages the cultivation of the given sweet potatoes seeds and beans due to their nutrient-rich properties.

Athanase highlights the prevalence of stunting in these districts and stresses the need to eradicate it by starting with the food that people consume regularly.

He notes that the use of outdated seeds in the Lake Kivu region is a challenge, but he commends the new project for providing access to improved seeds, which will benefit many individuals.

Athanase assures the community that they will soon have access to new potato seeds through this initiative.

The Vice Mayor of Rutsiro District, responsible for economic development, Uwizeyimana Emmanuel, expressed optimism about the positive outcomes expected from the project.

He noted that the majority of Rutsiro residents are farmers and emphasized the importance of addressing the issue of stunting and malnutrition among children in the area.

“Currently, the malnutrition rate is at 30%, higher than the desired 19%. Given that sweet potatoes are a staple crop in the region and over 80% of the population relies on agriculture, there is hope that promoting nutritious food production will help eliminate malnutrition and stunting entirely.” He explained.

With the launch of the Hinga Ukire Project, RWARRI and its partners are optimistic that smallholder farmers in Rubavu District and Rutsiro District will be able to increase their productivity and improve their food security.

By promoting the cultivation of biofortified crops, the project aims to not only address immediate food security issues but also contribute to improving the overall health and well-being of rural communities in those districts.

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