Empowering women farmers in Rwanda

UN Women works in over 100 countries unlocking opportunities for women to access education, training and jobs, helping women to lift themselves out of the cycle of poverty.

Alphonsine Nyiranzeyimana, a farmer from Cyahinda, in the southern part of Rwanda, says that learning new farming techniques completely changed her life. She’s not exaggerating. Today, Alphonsine is the leader of a farmers’ cooperative and the yield on some of her crops has more than doubled.

The agricultural sector accounts for a third of Rwanda’s GDP and more than 70 per cent of Rwandan women are engaged in farming activities. Yet, they don’t have the same access to land, production inputs, finance or markets as men. As a result, women farmers are mostly relegated to subsistence farming. While their families rely on their harvests as the main source of food and nutrition, the lack of quality agricultural inputs (products permitted for use in organic farming) and technology reduces the yield and diversity of their crops. This in turn impacts the food and nutritional security of their families.

Women farmers like Alphonsine realise that learning innovative approaches to farming and accessing the necessary inputs is central to unlocking a more secure future for themselves and their families.

UN Women alongside partners works with rural women and their communities to build sustainable livelihoods and engage women to change laws — to improve food and nutrition security.

“Since joining the program, the yield of my field has increased so much! For instance, I have learned how to plant beans in straight rows and how to use fertilisers. Where I needed 10 kg of bean seeds before, now I only need 3 kg for the same quantity of harvest,” explains Alphonsine. “Having shared the knowledge gained from the program with my husband, together we have increased the fertility of our land and multiplied our production.”

So far, this program has directly impacted the lives of more than 17,000 farmers in Rwanda and currently supports 20 farmers’ cooperatives similar to Alphonsine’s.

Going forward, UN Women and partners will continue to build on these achievements to empower women farmers and sustain the impact of the program throughout the country.