Rulindo: Launch of a 20-year Agroforestry for Livelihoods Project to promote resilience to climate change

By Nicole Kamanzi M.
On 2 November 2020 at 01:18

"Agroforestry: a pillar of effective agriculture and sustainable community livelihoods and development". In the process of planting agroforestry trees, the Minister of Environment, represented by the Director General of the Rwanda Forestry Authority (RFA), Mr. Jean Pierre Mugabo, has officially launched the Agroforestry for Livelihoods Project in Rwanda. The event took place in Rulindo District, Ngoma Sector, Karambo Cell on October 28th, 2020.

More than 3,500 trees were planted over 19.5 hectares; the most dominant tree species planted include Grevillea robusta trees, but there were also 215 indigenous tree species (including Erythrina, Mitragyna, Marhkamia lutea and Ficus sp).

The project is expected to plant more than six million trees (6,000,000), including agroforestry trees, fruit trees and woodlots as well as indigenous species on 15,209 hectares in Rulindo and Bugesera Districts.

The project will also contribute to combating air pollution where more than 3 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) are expected to be sequestered by planted and well maintained trees and through sustainable agricultural practices over the period of 20 years, starting from January 2020.

This project is implemented by the Albertine Rift Conservation Society (ARCOS Network) in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment (MoE) through its agencies Rwanda Forestry Authority (RFA) and Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), and other partners from private sectors and civil society as well as smallholder farmers from Rulindo and Bugesera Districts, with the goal to build resilient ecosystems for carbon sequestration and to empower a network of community groups as champions of change for inclusive and sustainable livelihoods. The project is funded by Livelihoods Funds.

Besides carbon sequestration, more than 30,000 households and more than 120,000 people will benefit from the project, more than 5,000 green jobs will be created, with 60% of project beneficiaries being women and youth. 1,000 grassroots community groups will be established and supported in income generation activities as champions of sustainable development with focus on environmental protection and biodiversity conservation.

Some residents who spoke to IGIHE said they were pleased with the recent planting of agroforestry trees on their farms and the training they receive from ARCOS Network on sustainable agricultural land management practices that includes soil erosion control will help them increase their crop yields and livestock productivity and satisfy their food and market needs.

KAMANA Jonas, a resident of Ngoma Sector, Karambo Cell, where the project was launched, said, “It is also difficult to get seedlings due to lack of money to buy them, but ARCOS has helped us by providing them freely, so we are very happy for that.”

Mulindwa Prosper, the Vice-Mayor in charge of Economic Development in Rulindo District, urged smallholder farmers who will plant trees not to harvest them in unsustainable way, that they should wait till trees are mature enough according to the project requirements.

“Farmers will be trained on short-term forestry and other livelihoods projects. The project will focus on the Yanze, Cyohoha and Muyanza sub-catchments, thus covering 12 out of 17 sectors in Rulindo District.”

The Executive Director of ARCOS Network, Dr. Kanyamibwa Sam, said that the project is in a bid to cope with the process of tackling climate change and that the community should contribute to that.

"The project is part of the process of tackling climate change, and in order to do that, the tree has to be planted and maintained for a long time. If the citizen was to plant it today and tomorrow, he got rid of it would have all been for nothing. The Community participation is needed to achieve this. ," he said.

Speaking of when and how these trees will be harvested, he said: "This project will take 20 years, yet it does not mean that the tree cannot be harvested in that period of 20 years, the trees will be harvested when the time comes, especially since we have brought the people together into groups where we will connect them with the buyers to harvest them at the same time and plant new ones.”

Dr. Kanyamibwa said a variety of tree species will be planted, including agroforestry trees, fruits trees, forests and indigenous trees and all these trees are need to meet different community needs such as erosion control, soil fertility restoration, construction, etc.

Mr. Jean Pierre Mugabo, Director of the Rwanda Forestry Agency (RFA), said that “agroforestry is a nationwide program”, he said. He added that those farmers who have planned to plant trees on their farms for this season should start planting early, i.e. by end of November, since, according to the weather forecast, the rains in this season might end sooner than normally expected.

He thanked the ARCOS Network for its continued contribution to the implementation of the government programs, especially those related to the protection of the environment and the welfare of the people.

ARCOS Network commends the people of Rulindo and Bugesera Districts for their dedication and sincere collaboration in implementing the project and urges them to continue to maintain well planted trees for sustainable agriculture and development.

ARCOS also thanked the Government of Rwanda and other stakeholders for their commitment to work together to ensure that the project will achieve its goals.