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Rwandan military fighting against hunger

'Our mission is not only to cultivate, but to involve local farmers,' Sebakara says (© George Kebaso)
'Our mission is not only to cultivate, but to involve local farmers,' Sebakara says
© George Kebaso

As part of the government's effort to reduce hunger and help smallholder farmers move away from subsistence farming to commercial agriculture, the Rwandan Defence Forces (RDF) have been instructed to increase the area of cassava they cultivate from 600 to 1,300 hectares. According to Lieutenant John Sebakara and Captain Alphonse Muyayo, plans are also underway to produce 16 by-products, including biofuel and flour, from the crop. "We will also export some of these products to Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo," says Muyayo.

"Our mission is not only to cultivate, but to involve local farmers," Sebakara adds. "Most of them are very poor but we are empowering them with knowledge of modern farming. We also tell them how to go and implement what they have learnt on their small farms."Colette Mukarubayiza, a widow with four children, testifies to the benefits of the project: "The programme is good for the locals around here. We have been able to learn a lot in terms of better farming. We have also learnt how to save money and open bank accounts."

Speaking during a recent meeting organised by the Alliance for Commodity Trade in East and Southern Africa (ACTESA), Rwanda's Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources, Dr Agnes Kalibata, stated that linking smallholder farmers to markets was key to achieving food security in Africa.

Written by: George Kebaso

Date published: June 2011

 

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