By Elias Hakizimana
In a bid to help small holder farmers, the ministry for agriculture and animal resources introduced a learning farm system called farmer field school since 2014.
Also known in Kinyarwanda as ‘Ishuri ry’Abahinzi mu Murima’ (IAMU), the initiative is implemented through a learning practical scenario where the plant symbolizes a teacher; the field is the school itself and the farmer, the learner.
Some farmers across the country give their own testimonies after succeeding in the lessons from the field.
Justin Ndagijimana from Nyaruguru district is one of the beneficiaries from the initiative who affirms he successfully graduated from the first to the second category of Rwandan livelihoods scheme also known as ‘ibyiciro by’ubudehe’ in Kinyarwanda.
The father of three joined farmer field school in October 2017 and has managed to be one of the best small holder farmers from whom neighbours come to take an example.
“I was in the first category of livelihood before I joined farmer field school initiative. I started implementing the lesson on beans, and I later extend my farming in carrots, I am now in the second category of Ubudehe,” Ndagijimana says.
Starting with Rwf4,000 loan from a saving group, he invested in buying carrot seeds which he planted on a small land and harvested 700 Kilogrammes, giving him Rwf120,000 in return after selling at Rwf200 per one kilogramme.
Beyond agriculture practices, Ndagijimana also managed to start aquaculture project.
He has now a pregnant cow and a goat as the result from implementing the best practices from farmer field school initiative.
Felix Habimana, another farmer from Karongi district can now harvest about 6o Kilogrammes of cassava from one tree because of the lessons learnt from FFS.
He manages to pay his family’s health insurance and to provide school materials for to the children.
Alphonsiine Nyirabagenzi, 33, is a mother of three from Cyanwa village, Cyahinda cell, Cyahinda sector in Nyaruguru district. She is also a small holder farmer who managed to change life due to FFS Programme.
“We planted 6 kilogrammes of beans on a small land and harvested 120 kilogrammes due to using fertilizers. They taught us how to follow on the plant since it is in the soil until we harvest. From the same land we used to crop 20 kilogrammes from 6kg before acquiring FFS skills,” said Nyirabagenzi.
Nyirabagenzi says that beyond beans farming they also grow maize and use the blend the produce into maize flour which she says has benefited many people as they are able to afford it near their homes.
The initiative was made decentralized at the village level, employing best trained farmers who teach their neighbours using their own best fields.
The Rwanda agriculture board (RAB) says that they partner with the food and agriculture organization (FAO-Rwanda) to train trainers of small holder farmers in this initiative.
In this framework, farmers from ten African countries; namely Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are in Kigali from November 29, 2017 to learn from each other on how to improve on FFS during a two-day Regional farmer field School Sharing event organized by FAO.
These countries will be sharing farmer field School information, knowledge, experiences and lessons learned across countries and the sub-region.