Story | 27 Jul, 2022

How the DeSIRA project is set to scale up agroforestry in Rwanda

The DeSIRA project, funded by the European Union, aims to enhance farmers’ livelihoods by generating knowledge through research that will help to scale up agroforestry in Rwanda.

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Photo: IUCN Rwanda Country Office

The project increases uptake of innovative agroforestry options by the farmers, and foster greater resilience through economic and ecological diversification, generating higher farm yields and more diversified food through capturing more value from high commercial and nutritious agroforestry products.

According to Julienne Gatesi, DeSIRA PhD student at the University of Gent in Belgium, said that she and her fellow PhD Student Jean Aimé Ruticumugambi, are doing action research on impact of agroforestry systems on carbon sequestration, land restoration, biodiversity conservation, and soil and land productivity while at the same time evaluating the social economic aspect of agroforestry on livelihood development.

Julienne and Jean Aimé are among hundred exhibitors at the 15th National Agriculture Show taking place from 9 to 14 July at Mulindi expo grounds in Gasabo District, Kigali.

IUCN-EU DeSIRA projectPhoto: IUCN Rwanda Country Office

During the National Agriculture Show, Jean Aimé presented on how biodiversity facilitates crop performance and agroforestry benefits biodiversity, while Julienne presented on how agroforestry positively impacts soils quality and soil water conservation, using citizen science in semi-arid regions of Rwanda's Eastern Province.

“We have been conducting participatory research, through farmers’ experience and observations, in Eastern Province and peripheral of Kigali to measure soil quality change in agroforestry systems. Farmers appreciated the contribution of agroforestry on runoff control, soil nutrients availability, change of soil color and quality, and soil water storage”, Gatesi said during exhibition.

Through this research and knowledge sharing, the five-year project will contribute to capacity building in agroforestry that will help reduce pressure on forest resources therefore contributing to the country’s commitment to restoring 2 million hectares by 2030.

The project is being implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural resources (IUCN) and Enabel in collaboration with international research institutions including the International Centre for Research and agroforestry (ICRAF), University of Leuven, University of Ghent, and the University of Rwanda. It also involves at the national agencies including the Rwanda Forestry Authority and Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board.

The European Union appreciates the strong determination of the government of Rwanda in addressing the challenges linked to climate change adding that the objective of this project is to support more climate friendly, innovative, productive and sustainable transformation of agriculture and food systems in low- and middle-income countries.

As of today, DeSIRA project in Rwanda is developing smart innovation to research basically answering to four questions among them is what are the agroforestry systems that can be developed locally, that can be more climate resistant, more climate resilient, respecting biodiversity and the water balance in the microclimate.

The project also touches on what are the value chains that can be promoted that can be profitable for farmers but at the same time, more climate resistant while also focusing on the fuel for biomass and the cooking systems.

Through this project, the capacity building is targeting farmers, farmer’s organisations, public agencies, and most of universities.