Mrs Mukarugwiza Clemence from Nkomane village in Nyabihu District is a Trees for Food Security champion farmer. She and her husband have a 40 acre farm on which they grow climbing beans and potatoes. Prior to the project they usually harvested 60-80 kg of produce per acre and these products were mostly used to feed her family of 6 children. Clemence became involved in agroforestry through the Karago Rural Resource Centre, which was established by the project. She attended a training program which taught about the role that trees could play in the farming system and what the correct spacing was for planting beans and potatoes. After attending the training, she has adopted agroforestry practices, including planting Alnus trees to improve soil fertility and control erosion, as well as planting 100 tree tomatoes (tamarillos). They manage the Alnus trees to produce green manure and stakes for their climbing beans.
Ms Mukarugwiza Clemence with her health insurance and bank account books. Photo: Tony Bartlett
Ms Mukarugwiza Clemence and Tony Bartlett with tree tomatoes.
Mr Rugerero Joseph Desire from Karandaryi village in Nyabihu District is another Trees for Food Security champion farmer. Joseph has 60 acres of farmland, spread across three plots, and this supports his family of 10. He grows potatoes, maize and climbing beans. Before the project, his crops yielded 70-90 kg per acre and he used all of this for home consumption. Joseph also became involved in agroforestry through the Karago Rural Resource Centre.
Joseph said that by adopting the agroforestry system and improved farming practices, his crop yields had increased to 150-200 kg per acre and he is able to sell the additional produce. He has also planted tree tomatoes which he got from the Rural Resource Centre. Joseph proudly explained that he is using this new income to pay secondary school fees for two boys and two girls and also the university fees for his eldest son. He said that without the project teaching him about agroforestry he would not have been able to afford the RWF 600,000 ($960) fee to send his son to university. In the early part of the project only 13 farmers in Joseph’s village were implementing agroforestry systems. As a champion farmer Joseph has trained another 30 farmers and they are now also benefiting from adopting agroforestry.
Joseph also explained that before the project, farmers were forced to plant Alnus trees to control erosion but no one explained to them how these trees could be used to improve their farming systems. He also explained that for many farmers a limiting factor in producing climbing beans was access to stakes. Previously they had to pay RWF 20 for each bamboo stake but now they have learned how to use the Alnus trees to produce as many stakes as they need.