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NCF: Promoting Sustainable Agriculture in a Changing Climate in Bugesera District

The project will support green growth for sustainable livelihoods through fruit trees and tree cover, using green irrigation and low carbon technologies, and inspiring smallholder farmers to promote a market oriented climate resilient agriculture.
Rwanda
Promoting Sustainable Agriculture in a Changing Climate in Bugesera District
Ref: NDF C83

Nordic Partner: Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI)
Local Partner: Nile Basin Discourse Forum in Rwanda (NBDF Rwanda)
Other Local Partner: Rwanda Environmental Conservation Organization (RECOR)
Total Project Cost: EUR 1,124,204
NCF Financing: EUR 500,000
Agreement Signed: 19 May 2017
Project type: Combination
Duration: 30 months
Project objective

The overall objective of this project is to empower smallholder farmers with skills and green technologies in climate resilient agriculture for sustainable livelihoods. The specific objectives are:

To combat the negative impacts of climate change on vulnerable people living in poverty by increasing knowledge, strengthening governmental and non-governmental institutions, and developing capacity related to climate change
Awareness creation amongst smallholder farmers on climate resilient agriculture
Integration of solar powered (green) technologies in irrigation
Promotion of sustainable land use and management practices
Empowerment of vulnerable groups and including women in nurturing fruit crops as climate resilient crops

Main results/outputs

In this project, 172,000 improved seedlings resistant to drought will be produced and planted in eight sectors of the Bugesera District. These will consist of indigenous fruit varieties grafted with more productive varieties such as mangoes, oranges and avocado. Other major outputs of the project are:

Increased capacity. 20 Rwandan policy and decision makers from governmental, private organisations and civil society will receive training and increased skills in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
80 trainers of trainers from farming cooperatives trained on awareness creation in climate resilient agriculture; these shall train other beneficiaries.
8 hectares of fruit trees irrigated with solar powered technologies to demonstrate use of green technologies.
2000 hectares of land sustainably managed and put to efficient utilization through use of soil water retention practices such as mulching and compost making.
400 beneficiaries trained in nurturing improved climate resilient fruit seedlings as well as disease and pest control techniques; participants from the trainings of trainers shall progressively train other beneficiaries.

Description

Agriculture is a mainstay of the Rwandan economy, contributing about 39% of the GDP and sustaining most of its rural population. Rwanda is currently highly vulnerable to climate change as it is strongly reliant on rain-fed agriculture. From recent survey data, the populations with the greatest risk of being affected by climate change are the food insecure and otherwise highly vulnerable (e.g. disease burdened) groups. Areas where access to food is most problematic include the Eastern Curve, Bugesera, Southern Plateau and Lake Shore areas where over 45% of the households have reduced access to food.

Bugesera District is located in the densely populated low lands of the Eastern region, and greatly affected by long periods of drought which tend to become cyclical and persistent. Despite the many water bodies in the region, composed of lakes and rivers, Bugesera has suffered long dry spells with adverse impacts on livelihoods and welfare of the populace. Crop failure during the 2000 drought meant the entire region had to depend on external food supplies. The extent and intensity of land degradation have also weakened its resilience. Drought, combined with overgrazing and poor cultivation practices, has led to deterioration in pasture and arable land to the point where many have been abandoned. There is an emergence of pests and diseases, possibly because of changing environmental conditions, crop pests were reported to have increased. All these have been exacerbated by poverty, and poor coping and mitigating capacity to a changing climate.

The proposed project will strengthen resilience and address green growth for sustainable livelihoods through increasing fruit tree cover using green, and low carbon technologies, and inspire smallholder farmers to promote a market oriented climate resilient agriculture practice in eight (8) sectors of Bugesera district (Marema, Rweru, Ngeruka, Ruhuha, Kamabuye, Nyarugenge, Rilima and Juru).

Relevance for climate change

The project is relevant based on the following aspects:

Due to unreliable rainfall and prolonged droughts, communities are unable to fully utilize their land for agricultural production.
Bugesera region is a climate hotspot, there is rampant food insecurity which has led to population migration because of low adaptation and mitigation potentials.

Recognizing that climate change is affecting vulnerable communities now and mostly, the mitigation impacts from the proposed project include the following:

Promotion of the use of green technologies for agriculture.
Increasing carbon emissions reduction from the atmosphere through tree planting.
Increased awareness on climate change mitigation, emission reduction skills and techniques.

Innovation aspects

The project is a new technological practice that brings about man’s appreciation and perception change rather than complaints about the sun’s effect to his daily livelihood. It is innovative in a number of aspects such as climate change evidence based agriculture for resilience, promotion of fruit growth for commercial purpose and introduction of green technologies for irrigation using solar systems. It is also cost effective as purchase of equipment is done once and operational costs are low as compared to most systems in use. The fruit trees shall have double benefits of carbon sequestration as added advantage and livelihoods improvement. They will also provide increased resilience to heavy rains through erosion control.
The selected fruit trees are perennial and the intercropping (agri-silviculture) of seasonal crops and other non-timber products such pollen and nectar, foliage can be achieved at the same time.
The project will also provide advanced international training in climate change, adaptation and mitigation in Rwanda to a total of 20 beneficiaries, and with a focus on agriculture and water resource management. This is innovative because there are very few qualified experts in the field.

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