Creation of a School Farm in Kibaya, Rwanda

Project location: RWANDA, Kibaya
Project start date: December 2013 - Project end date: December 2016
Project number: 2013-050
Beneficiary: Progetto Rwanda ONLUS

[2014-052]


Rwanda is a small African state, covering an area of only 26.338 km², situated in the Great Lakes Region, sadly renowned for the genocide consummated in 1994 against a part of the population identified as Tutsi at the hands of the Hutu extremists, who in only a hundred days barbarously massacred around one million people.
With a population of around 11 million inhabitants and the population growth rate constantly rising, Ruanda is the most densely populated African country and it is expected that it will reach 12 million inhabitants in 2015.

Even though this country is experiencing a phase of economic growth, thanks to national strategies and international help, areas of extreme poverty continue to persist, so much so that half of the population lives under the poverty threshold.

The mild climate throughout the year, combined with a wealth of water resources, guaranteed by two rainy seasons, give the landscape a lush looking appearance and potentially make Ruanda one of the most productive African countries. Despite this, the majority of the rural population lives in poverty and suffers from unstable nourishment, mainly due to the lack of sufficient arable land and the shortage of livestock which is totally inadequate for the population`s needs.

Agriculture in Rwanda is characterized by small family run farms no larger than one hectare, where traditional low profit cultivation methods are used and cattle rearing is very rare. 92% of the national agriculture is given over to the production of food-stuffs and two thirds of this is for their own consumption. The most vulnerable part of the rural population is comprised of farmers with small holdings of less than 0.2 hectares and peasants with no land who cannot therefore rely on the land for a living.

However the major threat for the rural population comes from the gradual deterioration of the soil which has worsened throughout years of continuous intensive exploitation. In addition to the high density of the population, associated with the lack of land per head, the traditional method of cultivation is actually a decisive factor in the impoverishment of the soil. Traditionally little attention was paid to the agricultural practice of replenishing the soil with organic substances; the use of organic fertilizers is rare as is the rotation of crops. The situation is made worse by the country`s orography, characterized by hilly areas where farmers are forced to farm on slopes sometimes with a 55% gradient. In any case this terrain is unsuitable for agriculture because of the surface erosion of the soil. In recent years vast areas of woodland have been destroyed to make way for fields and housing with the immediate result of rain water not finding any natural barriers to contain it.

The project's area of intervention is that of Kibaya, an isolated village of peasants situated in the Ngoma district, part of the East Province. This village has no basic infrastructure like water systems, electricity, medical centre or suitably surfaced roads. The school the local administration building are the only institutions with a presence in the village and they are therefore important places of reference for the whole community. This area suffers from the same problems that threaten the national environment, worsened however by other factors which have a strong impact on the area and the community. In fact the peasants of Kibaya use traditional methods of agriculture on small allotments together with the monoculture of the banana, a limited vegetable growth and a sporadic rearing of farmyard animals. This agriculture exploits these steep terrains where erosion causes severe damage especially during the rainy season because there is no adequate terracing and no system of channeling the rain water. The intensive banana cultivation represents the only product of market value thanks to the interest of middle men who trade throughout the country. A few years ago a cooperative was also created for rice production on the lowlands rich with water below the village. This produce is sent to markets in the Province and is therefore not used in the local diet. These two intensive cultivations are having negative effects on both the conservations of the soil`s fertility in continuous impoverishment and on the diet of the families who feed themselves almost exclusively on plane tree. With this situation of insufficient arable land and the rise in the population, the lack of knowledge of basic agricultural practices is the principal cause of the soils impoverishment with the result of a fall in agricultural production. The result therefore is an increasing deterioration of the environment resulting in the fall of food production in the whole Kibaya area. Underfeeding and malnutrition, both on the increase, are made worse by endemic disease such as HIV, malaria, typhoid and tuberculosis. In this context the relationship between environmental conservation and agricultural production plays a vital role for the whole community.

This project was awarded a grant from the Nando Peretti Foundation. It aims to promote methods of good agricultural practices which educate the recipients on the best way to use their land without compromising its future integrity thereby assuring a sustainable relationship between agriculture and environment. The centre of this activity will be the buildings and grounds of the school in Kibaya, who have at their disposal, by concession of the Kibungo Diocese, 4 hectares of land next to the school. This land will become the place for the education of students and community inhabitants. This proposed project foresees the creation of a teaching farm where those attending will learn technical methods of cultivation and more efficient and modern breeding methods in a practical way, with the aim of preserving and defining the sustainability of the land.

The Management Committee will play a central role in the project`s development taking care of the coordination and supervision of all the activities occurring on the farm. Qualified personnel from INATEK will train nr 6 of the teachers of the school of Kibaya and nr 3 people in charge of the school farm, imparting the rudiments of agronomics and also nutrition at a general level, with the aim of creating personnel who are capable of carrying out the activities foreseen in the project. The farmers responsible for the school farm wil be selected favouring people who don't own any plot of land and who, thanks to this project, will have access to this chance. The planning of the activities will be done by INATEK personnel who, assisted by 6 teachers and 3 people in charge of the farm, will organize the creation of the farm, plan the students educational activities and prepare the agricultural training program. Three different production areas will be created on the 4 hectares of land and each will be managed by each of the 3 people in charge of the teaching farm. These areas will be organized as follows: The nearest to the school buildings will be assigned to rearing of animals and the making of compost; the second will be cultivated with fruit and vegetables and the last, the one nearest to running water and therefore irrigated, will be turned into a nursery for the production and growth of vegetable and fruit plants. The land divided up in this manner will be the centre of practical training for chosen groups of adults and students from the higher classes of the Kibaya school. The training of adults will follow the "training of teachers" system, in line with the modus operandi used by the local Ruandese administration and their selection will be made with care taking into account the village they come from (umudugudu) so as to involve every area of the cell. Moreover the project will be structured so that the participants, through direct experience, can learn the fundamental concepts of ecology of their own land.

Simultaneously to the training of teachers, in the first year the educational activity will begin for the school students of the 1st secondary and 6th primary classes, the 6th and 5th primary classes in the second year and finally the 5th and 4th primary classes in the third year. Taking into account the children`s age which ranges from 10 to 13, the educational activity will be carried out in game fashion so as the students will find it easier to learn the basics of agronomics. The teachers, at the end of their student`s education, will have taught them the basic notions of nutrition and with the school canteen the children will have eaten their meals with the products that they themselves have produced.

This project proposes to reach the objective of implementing the Kibaya community`s knowledge on the conservation of soil fertility which is essential for the sustained development of the cell`s inhabitants together with the achievement of social and economic benefits as set out in the general objectives.

The general objectives are:
a) Contribute to the improvement of nutritional safety of the school children, their families and the entire Kibaya community;
b) Favour the fight against malnutrition and underfeeding in the cell of Nyaruvumu;
c) Contribute to the reduction of poverty of the Kibaya inhabitants;
d) Contribute to a sustainable local development.

The start-up of the projects implies the creation and functioning of the Management Committee; this activity establishes the basic condition for starting and carrying out the project. A Management Committee will in fact be created in this phase, conceived as an asset to the project, capable of coordinating and supervising the activities. This strategic group will be composed of:
• director of the Kibaya school,
• representatives of INATEK`s Agricultural Department,
• representatives of the Kibunga Diocese,
• representatives of the Nyaruvumu cell,
• project manager of the Progetto Rwanda Onlus.

The principle objectives of the Committee will be to operatively define the organization of the school farm, the selection of cultivation techniques to be used, the operative calendar of work and training, to define educational objectives and adapt them to teaching program curricula in order to program the activities to be taught to the students.
The Management Committee will have a permanent role inside the school and will continue to organize and coordinate the activities even after the project has ended. The objective is to include the Committee in the school organizational structure

Once formed, the Management Committee will also be engaged in the following:
- selection of the teachers involved in the project (nr. 6 teachers will be selected on the basis of their personal availability, motivation, vulnerability, proximity of their home to the school.
- Selection of  people in chargeof the school farm involved in the project (nr. 3 inhabitants of the Nyaruvumu cell who don't own a plot of land will be selected on the basis of their vulnerability, level of school education, reliability. )
The Management Committee will be responsible for purchasing all the materials required for carrying out the foreseen activities and the creation of a paddock and a storeroom to house products and equipment.
Teachers from INATEK will train nr. 6 teachers from the school in Kibaya and nr. 3  people in charge  of the school farm the rudiments of agronomics and nutrition, essential to guarantee the correct functioning of the activities with the students and adults. This training, as specified in the table that follows, will last 85 hours and foresees times for theory and practice.

FORMATION OF PROFESSORS AND  PEOPLE IN CHARGE TO BE DONE BY INATEK

THOSE INVOLVED

NR. HOURS

TYPE OF

TRAINING

SUBJECT MATTER

Nr. 6 teachers of Kibaya's school

25

Theory

Project presentation, concepts of general agronomics, breeding techniques

Nr. 6 teachers of Kibaya's school

10

Theory

Concepts of nutrition

Nr.3 peasants in charge for the school farm

20

Theory - Practice

Planning and development of activities in three farming areas

Nr. 6 teachers of Kibaya's school

10

Theory

Organization of teaching activities with the students: subject matter, length of time, methods

Nr. 6  teachers of Kibaya's school

20

Practice

Activities concerning cultivation management and breeding

 

While these activities are being carried out with students and adults, the three peasants in charge for the school farm and the six teachers of Kibaya's school will deepen in itinere the subject matter of their training thanks to the continuous contribution from INATEK`s agronomists.
The agronomists of INATEK, in collaboration with the six teachers of Kibaya's school and the three peasants in charge of the three productive areas of the farm will set out the program of agricultural, zoo-technical and educational activities which will be examined and approved by the Management Committee.
The 4 hectares of land available for the project are in the hilly area near the school buildings and they extend to a flat bottomed valley with a running stream. The ground is of a medium texture, endowed with good fertility and is therefore suitable for vegetable and tree growth. At this present time the rain water course needs to be worked on and the surface erosion on the higher ground needs to be contained by terracing being restored. The land will be divided into 3 areas according to the outlined description as follows:
Concerning the portion of land nearest to the school buildings. The choice of including animal rearing in the project comes from the fact that cattle produce a sufficient amount of manure for making good quality compost, they give milk and meat products and moreover will carry out the work needed on the land.
The following is required for the accomplishment of the project:
• the purchase of two cows with triple capability (milk/meat/work) one of these already in calf so as to have a calf in a short period of time and therefore milk production while the other can be used for working the ground;
• creation of a paddock made up of a roof and troughs plus an area of approximately 20mq;
• creation of a 10mq half dug out pit for compost making of manure and vegetable waste;
This extends on the flat piece of land near to the stream whose water runs all year round and which therefore makes the ground easily irrigated. In addition this slimy sandy earth lends itself well to nursery activities. The aim for which this section has been thought out is that of introducing propagation techniques and the cultivation of species for the reproduction of germoplasma to be given to the local farmers to improve and diversify their productions. Moreover a large shaded area made of natural fibre will be created for protection against hail storms and excessive solar radiation.
In this area the following will be carried out;
• reproduction and multiplication of fruit and vegetable plants which will make up the field crops and orchard of the farm;
• production of selected seeds of kitchen-garden species which will be used on the farm and also by the local farmers in order to improve and diversify these productions;
• multiplication through pruning and grafting of fruit trees to distribute to the local farmers to strengthen the poor variety which is genetically present on site.
In the vegetable garden-orchad area, indigenous herbaceous and arboreal species will be cultivated for food consumption demonstrating that, with the use of correct agricultural methods, the yield and quality of the products can be improved without harming the soils fertility. An important aspect of this area regards the introduction in the Kibaya area of new species, perfectly adaptable, which can bring notable advantages in improving the composition of the daily diet. Particular attention is also given to teaching the techniques of water management to cope with its insufficiency or excess. The foreseen activities will be those of:
• vegetable production following cultivation rotation techniques;
• use of compost as organic fertilizer;
• pest control following biological criteria;
• introduction of new vegetable species, unknown on site but highly adaptable;
• improvement of the quality-quantity of the most used species on site;
• use of techniques to prevent erosion of the ground;
• use of irrigation techniques;

The three peasants in charge for the farm will represent, along with the agronomists, the key figures around whom the practical and productive training activities will develop, together with the regular functioning of the farm. Each responsible will be in charge of one of the 3 areas of the farm: cattle breeding and compost making; vegetable and fruit production, nursery. The three peasants in charge will have the following tasks:
• care of the assigned area guaranteeing its upkeep and production even during the school holidays;
• routine maintenance of the tools and systems with the task of carrying out small repairs;
• support by the INATEK agronomist in the training of 120 teachers-to-be ;
• support by the professors during the students training, planning their activities;
The three peasants in charge of the three areas will be remunerated with part of the produce obtained from the cultivation and animal rearing activities foreseen in the project.
The project foresees 5 six-month cycles of training given by INATEK experts each addressing 3 representatives of each of the 8 umudugudu for a total of 24 people per cycle. The umudugudu consists of the smallest administrative body and is made up of 90 households. The Nyaruvumu cell is composed of 8 umudugudu meaning the future training of a total of 120 representatives (5 cycles, involving 24 people) for all the umudugudu of Nyaruvumu. Transferring of knowledge is guarantee by lessons concentrating on agro-ecological and zoo-technical concepts such as:
• natural system of engineering against soil erosion such as terracing the ground, channeling and drainage system of the excess waters, selection of plants with strong and ramified roots for reinforcing the ground;
• production technique and use of compost;
• rotation of crops technique for a correct replenishment of nutrients in the soil;
• cultivation technique of fruit and vegetable species, with reintroduction of species specific to the area where the biodiversity has been endangered;
• improvement of production techniques on plants that have low yields by using varieties of specific seeds of the area and introducing moderate amounts of other seeds to assess their real agro-economic sustainability in the area in question;
• the start and management of nursery production;
• cattle rearing techniques for meat and milk production and also using their towing force in ploughing and other cultivation activities;
• pest control techniques for plants through biological and mechanical physics intervention;
The six teachers of Kibaya's school, once their training course has finished, will introduce 600 children to the various activities in accordance with a program approved by the Management Committee. The aim of this teaching program, which will mainly use a recreational method in its teaching, is that of educating the children in the correct use of natural resources according to criteria of sustainable ecological agriculture so as to make food production reliable and of good nutritious value. To this end the teaching program will be finalized in the knowledge of the basic principles of nutrition which foresee the use of part of the products obtained from the farm in the preparation of meals supplied by the school canteen. Another important objective will be that of getting the children to understand the importance of biodiversity thereby guaranteeing reliable and diversified food production. Only through the knowledge of modern agricultural techniques will the program be able to create awareness in the youngsters of the value of agriculture as an activity to improve the quality of their lives and not the reason for poverty. The school`s teaching curricula today guarantees instruction up to the first year of secondary education. The program`s teaching activity will involve 4 classes each year for a total of around 200 children thereby ensuring the training of 600 students in the 3 years to come. In order to guarantee the participation of students of 10 years of age or older, the selection of classes will follow the following scheme:

Year of the project

Classes and Divisions involved in the project`s training scheme

1st year

6th primary Div.A

6th primary Div.B

1st secondary Div.A

1st secondary Div.B

2nd year

5th primary Div.A

5th primary Div.B

6th primary Div.A

6th primary Div.B

3rd year

4thprimary Div.A

4th primary Div.B

5th primary Div.A

5th primary Div.B

The produce obtained from the farm will partly be intended as retribution for the work carried out by the three peasants in charge of the 3 productive areas and partly for use in the school canteen in the preparation of meals for the students.

The specific objective, which represents the principle aim of this project, will be reached thanks to the achievement of a series of intermediate results identified as follows:
- N°1 school farm teaching agriculture and animal breeding , started up and functioning;
- n°3 peasants in charge of the school farm;
- n° 6 teachers trained in the school`s educational activities;
- n° 600 pupils from the Kibaya school educated in good agricultural practices, agricultural methods and eco-sustainable breeding and on correct nutritional principles;
- N° 120 representatives of umudugudu involved in conveying the knowledge with regard to: good agricultural practices, principles of ecologic farming, breeding methods and use of animals in the farming activities, principles of a correct food diet;
- n° 5.000 inhabitants of the Kibaya community educated to tackle the problems concerning the conservation of soil fertility and that of insufficient nourishment;
- n. 3 local institutions (cell of Nyaruvumu, section of Rukira, District of Ngoma) involved in the educational process finalized in improving the life of the population.


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