One of the greatest things about being part of a program such as Agrostudies is that we are able to really see the fruits of the work and how they impact and make a difference in the world. There are many different stories but this one is particularly exciting. A cooperative of (currently) 67 agriculturalists, of which 95% are Agrostudies students is basically revolutionizing agriculture in Rwanda, thanks to the local government’s support and the students’ skills.
The cooperative was created just over a year ago, in June 2016 by 10 Agrostudies graduates who wanted to change the face of Agriculture in Rwanda and decided to pool their resources together and establish a wide range of projects.
Irrigation in Rwanda
One of the biggest projects is the irrigation project. Results can already be seen. The cooperative is clearing out irrigation channels, building new infrastructure (channels, supportive infrastructure, water reservoirs etc) and teaching local farmers how to use and install automated irrigation systems in both marshlands and hillsides. They expect to expand up to 100,000 hectares of irrigated land.
This is also done through community mobilization. By helping communities organize and create their own cooperatives they are empowering local farmers. They provide training and support their growth, making it possible to create long lasting, sustainable change.
The cooperative helps train the farmers and accompanies them while teaching new growing methods for a great variety of crops including beans, onions, tomatoes, watermelons, rice and more. Farmers are also instructed in pest and disease management, they learn how to create and use compost, how and when to weed, important facts on crop maintenance and of course, how to preserve and protect the ground, so that it yields more crops. The cooperative collaborates with Hazera Seeds, from whom they acquire high quality and high yield seeds.
Of course this is just the beginning, the cooperative is young and it is supported and encouraged strongly by the government of Rwanda. A new post-harvest project will be launched shortly, and a flower production project is in the works. The members of this cooperative are enthusiastic in sharing their skills, so new members are joining regularly and new projects are being imagined and developed.
So who can join? “Anyone who has a will can join. The cooperative doesn’t have a limit” says the President of the HoReCo Coop Mr. Ndayizigiye Emmanuel, “Anyone who wants to use their skills towards the public interest. The government is helping those of us who have been trained to help the people and develop Rwandan agriculture.”