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Development project 11 of 16
Title
Sustainable Agricultural Training Project
Location
Communities around the Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Gorillas
Mountain gorillas
Local Partner:   Imbaraga Farmers’ Union
Description

Rwanda is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa, and the majority of people earn a living through labour-intensive subsistence farming, employing inefficient agricultural practices that produce poor yields and lead to poverty and environmental degradation. As a result, local communities encroach on the Volcanoes National Park for farmland and trespass to collect firewood, food and water, threatening the survival of the critically endangered mountain gorilla. Since 2001, the Gorilla Organization has been implementing the Sustainable Agricultural Training Project (SATP) in communities living alongside the park. During the initial stages of the project, 110 farmers received six months of intensive training in the theory and practice of organic agriculture. Once they had completed their training - qualifying as ‘key farmer trainers’ (KFTs) - they each trained a further 20 contact farmers, who in turn trained five more farmers each. Ultimately, more than 13,000 would adopt the techniques in this way.

The objective of the SATP is to improve the agricultural practices of communities living alongside the Volcanoes National Park, in turn reducing poverty and human pressure on the park.

Progress

All 110 KFTs completed their training in 2004, and had passed this on to over 3,000 contact farmers by the end of 2007. The number of beneficiaries that have received training to date now stands at almost 10,000. The KFTs were tutored in the theory and practice of certain agricultural techniques, with topics including field terracing, crop rotation, organic composting and the utilisation of manure. These practices have dramatically improved crop yields and helped to generate income. In addition to agricultural training, the SATP has introduced fuel-efficient stoves to the local communities, reducing the consumption of charcoal and firewood by up to 70% and therefore further decreasing reliance on the park’s resources. Tree planting is also an important element of the SATP, and over 100,000 saplings have been planted to date. The formation of Umurage W’Ubuvivi (“from generation to generation”) by the KFTs has further benefited the project as this group has been overseeing the continuation of training, reinforcing certain elements and introducing new techniques. The Gorilla Organization has helped build their capacity, assisting them in the development of new technologies and techniques, which they exhibit at national exhibitions to boost their profile and income. The project has become sustainable as the extension training continues without requiring further inputs. An evaluation of the SATP will be carried out in 2009, and will indicate the impact it has had on the beneficiaries. This will also provide an indication of areas that need further improvement, and will demonstrate how the project can continue to benefit the communities indefinitely.

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