KIGALI, November 20, 2019 – For Marie Nyiraneza, 61, agriculture had always been a subsistence occupation. She never imagined that she could comfortably live off farming and even manage to save and invest in other economic activities.
“I practiced traditional farming, crowding my garden with all kinds of crops—sorghum, sweet potatoes, maize, and soya, and yields were always low,” said Nyiraneza, who lives in Runga, Nyanza District. “Oftentimes there wasn’t enough to feed my family through to the next season.”
Then, through two agriculture projects, the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) expanded the radical terraces in Runga villages to stabilize the hillside, trained farmers in modern farming technics and built irrigation infrastructures.
The impact to the lives of the farmers was almost instantaneous. For Nyiraneza, her yields tripled, and the quality of her produce improved considerably. Where she used to harvest only 100kg of beans, she started getting one ton of good quality beans.
The World Bank funded projects—the Rural Sector Support Project (RSSP) and the Land Husbandry, Water Harvesting and Hillside Irrigation (LWH) Project—helped the government of Rwanda increase productivity and commercialization of marshland and hillside agriculture in targeted areas. They also allowed for investment in rural infrastructure, which have been put in place to link productive areas to markets.
When the project encouraged and helped farmers in Runga to shift from subsistence farming to a more modern commercialized agriculture, Nyiraneza took advantage of the opportunity. With proceeds from her beans harvest, she leased another piece of land and started growing chili peppers, a high demand product that quickly enabled her to invest and save; in 2014, she saved RWF1.5 million ($1635) and applied for a RWF 500,000 ($545) loan from her Community Savings and Credit Cooperative. She used the money to buy another house, which she rents out.