June 17, 2024

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Charting the Path to Promoting Sustainable Agriculture: Rwanda hosts the 2nd National Agroforestry Conference

Kigali, Rwanda – The Ministry of Environment in collaboration with European Union Delegation to Rwanda, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Belgian development agency (Enabel), and International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF), Universities of Rwanda, Ghent and KU Leuven through European Union funded project DeSIRA (Development-Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture) are hosting for its second time, National Agroforestry Conference which takes place in Rwanda from 28 to 29 May 2024 at Serena Hotel.

The conference brings together research and academic institutions, government institutions, farmer organizations, civil society organisations, international organizations, private sectors, media, and development partners among many others to share preliminary research results and discuss how agroforestry solutions could be applicable to the country.

Various exchanges in this 2-day conference cover several themes regarding the ecosystem services of agroforestry systems; biomass and energy supply potential in agroforestry systems; the socio-economic of agroforestry adoption; agroforestry system monitoring tools and policy development.

Minister of Environment, Dr Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya said: “Our nation, with its diverse landscapes and agricultural traditions, is at the forefront of addressing the global challenges of climate change and environmental sustainability.  As we face the realities of a changing climate, agroforestry emerges as a crucial ally. Trees act as guardians, mitigating the impacts of extreme weather events, regulating temperatures, and sequestering carbon dioxide.

Our commitment to agroforestry is a commitment to biodiversity. By diversifying our landscapes with a mix of crops and trees, we create habitats for diverse plant and animal species. The adoption of agroforestry practices stands as a beacon of hope, offering practical solutions that harmonize the needs of people and prosperity. “

Ambassador of the European Union to Rwanda Belen Calvo Uyarra said; “In collaboration with our valued partners, we are proud of EU’s DeSIRA initiative, a beacon of hope for sustainable agriculture and environmental resilience in Rwanda. The government’s commitment to agroforestry aligns with our shared vision for a future where climate challenges are met with innovative, research-backed solutions.

The dedication of the Rwandan government to agroforestry-based restoration is commendable and demonstrates a proactive approach to transforming agriculture and food systems. Agroforestry, as a Nature-based solution, not only addresses climate change and biodiversity concerns but also fosters poverty reduction.

We believe this gathering will generate valuable knowledge, paving the way for evidence-based policies and contributing to the country’s sustainable development goals towards a greener, more resilient future for Rwanda and beyond.” She said

IUCN Rwanda Country Representative, Ms Kaori Yasuda said : Our work has shown that agroforestry-based restoration of degraded agricultural land, a Nature-based solution, can greatly improve the resilience of farmers’ livelihoods to climate change, while providing co-benefits that include improvements of land health, biodiversity conservation, water resources preservation and soil erosion control.

A strong collaboration between scientists and policy makers is required to effectively implement research proven agroforestry options to enhance productive and sustainable transformation of agriculture and food systems in Rwanda”. She added

The Resident Representative of Enabel in Rwanda, Mr. Dirk Deprez said “Agroforestry systems play a crucial role in adapting ecosystems and communities to climate change while fostering the development of a green economy. Given its position at the intersection of forestry and agriculture, successful adoption of good practices by farmers necessitates the seamless integration of agroforestry into national and local forestry and agriculture policies.

Mr. Dirk noted that “This integration requires strategic planning, sustainable fund mobilization, and coordination involving the private sector and carbon market opportunities. Applied research, providing practical solutions tailored to local contexts, is vital for supporting this integration.”

Enabel is dedicated to contributing to this collective effort, drawing on its 10-year experience in Rwanda working with both forestry and agriculture sectors. Our focus lies in innovating agroforestry value chain development to further this important cause.” He added

The National Agrofestry Conference is financially supported through DeSIRA action research program which is being jointly implemented by Enabel and IUCN in collaboration with CIFOR-ICRAF and Universities.

The project aims at effectively understanding and demonstrating the ecological, social and economic pathways to, and resultant benefits from the scale up of agroforestry-based restoration and sustainable biomass use, particularly focusing on the Rwandan Eastern province – which presents relatively higher opportunities of agroforestry landscapes restoration with approximately 500,000 ha, and the peri-urban City of Kigali -with an estimated area of approximately 40,000 ha for horticultural value chains development opportunities.  

The conference happens in view of the end of the current National Strategy for Transformation (NST 1) and the upcoming NST2 that is expected to start in 2025. The conference also is a basis to package Rwanda’s information on agroforestry and prepare the World Agroforestry Congress in 2025 in which the Government of Rwanda is expected to host.

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