Yashyizweho kuri 12 February, 2018 | 08:27

Nyanza farmers celebrate participation in district performance contract

Farmers from Nyanza District are no longer receiving orders. Now, after a training of Transparency International Rwanda (TI Rwanda), they are involved in the decision-making and planning of their own fields and therefore take an active part in their District performance contract.

The shift in mindset for both sides – farmers and local authorities – were initiated by a Transparency International Rwanda (TI Rwanda) training, in partnership with SDA (Service au Development des associations), IRIBA and IMBARAGA (Rwandan Farmers federation). According to Nzeyimana Elie Makeba, the National Coordinator of the TI Rwanda project, the intervention is funded by the World Bank through a program of Global Partnership for Social Accountability. The main objective is to empower and increase the participation of citizens in their District performance contract, specifically in agriculture sector.

Until recently, the district planning decided for the farmers what to plant, resulting in a big loss of harvest. Charles Ndayisaba is the representative of farmers’ cooperative Icyerecyezo ("Vision”) in the Busoro Sector. “Before the training, farmers in Busoro did not have plans for their future. Instead, they used to wait for God’s miracles”, he explained. The joint project of TI Rwanda started with conducting a survey to ask citizens about their problems, challenges and wishes for the future. The report of the survey were presented to the district leaders.

Sylvestre Munyampara is the representative of farmers grouped in Urumuri rw’abahinzi (light of farmers) cooperative, which actively work in Inganzo swamp in Busasamana sector. Farmers of the swamp now to grow maize, vegetables and potatoes on that soil, which were prior used for soy beans. However, the harvest of the soy beans was never satisfying. “Now that we grow what we choose ourselves, the production increases every year. This is a direct result of the TI Rwanda project, which enabled us in claiming our rights”, explained Munyampara. And even more change was initiated through the project. Nicodèmem Rugerimisare is the spokesperson of the famers’ cooperative in Nyanza district. “Back then, the district planning team used to tell us what to grow, but soon after the TI Rwanda intervention, we started to express our needs towards our local leaders. Now Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) tests the seeds before we grow them.”

And the change of mindset is not to be underestimated: Before the TI Rwanda training, citizens did not have any understanding of the processes of the district performance contract, and thus acted very passively. Today, citizens actively take part in their district planning team, especially farmers, who decide what to grow on their fields, whereas the district technical team assists with technical advice. The farmers in Nyanza district have great hope to succeed their Vision 2020 Umurenge goals.

The local leaders accepted the challenge

Theogene Mugabonake is district officer in charge of agriculture and affirms that the involvement of farmers in the planning resulted in an increased production, which leaded to buyers from other districts purchase the production from Nyanza farmers. Mugabonake said, that the farmers expressed their opinion and the planning team allowed them to grow what they think would result in a good harvest. “The planning team now approaches farmers and decide together what is to be plant next. The farmer became the base of choice and strongly influences the decision-makers”, explained Theogene Mugabonake.

But the project is not at an end yet. Now, that farmers are participating in the planning, next step is to train them in monitoring and evaluation to prevent corruption and delay of important activities.

Francine Andrew Mukase

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