PARES

Project for Agroforestry and Resource Management - PARES

 

The majority of Rwandan smallholders are constantly in distress about the fact that the yield from agricultural parcels measuring only fractions of a hectare is not sufficient to feed their families.

The PARES project has set itself the task of countering this situation by intensifying agricultural production on the available land. The project can draw on the experience gained from many years of agroecosystem research in the project "Agricole et Social Interuniversitaire". The aim of the project is to enable Rwandan smallholders to convert their farms to ecofarming and agroforestry by passing on this experience. Theoretical and especially practical knowledge about sustainable production methods is imparted with the help of agricultural consultants to farmers in cooperatives as well as to pupils in primary and secondary schools and to students in Universities.

 

Central topics of the consulting work are:

  • Protection of soils against erosion and degradation by applying biological soil protection measures (in particular tree and shrub integration in erosion control strips parallel to the contour lines)
  • Preservation and improvement of soil fertility through agroforestry, compost preparation and other methods of biomass recycling (especially mulching), mixed cultivation, green manuring etc.

 

The consulting takes place on several levels, target groups are:

Agricultural consultants: The often insufficiently trained agricultural consultants in the sectors are an important target group due to their strong multiplier effect. The consultants are often overwhelmed by the problems of smallholder practice and are therefore very grateful for the cooperation with the project and for training courses in which integrative solutions to the everyday problems of smallholders (declining soil fertility, soil erosion) are taught instead of the standard topics that were common in the past but difficult to impart to the smallholders (e.g. "use of improved seeds", "mineral fertilisation").

Agricultural cooperatives: The project only counsels cooperatives that already have a strong self-interest in questions of ecologically adapted land use. The consultants employed in the project supported the cooperatives with trainings on special topics (e.g. agroforestry, establishment of tree nurseries, compost production) as well as practical instruction in the work on the community fields. The farmers are put in a position to transfer the knowledge they have gained in the project to their privately cultivated fields ; however, individual on-site consultations only take place in exceptional cases.

Pupils: Education is invaluable in a country like Rwanda. Only a small proportion of all pupils will be able to find work outside the agricultural sector under the current conditions. For the other pupils it must be a question of making agriculture attractive again, which in many places suffers from the problems of land scarcity, progressive soil degradation and declining yields per hectare. School children should therefore learn to use the agricultural resources soil and water sustainably from an early age on. The project creates opportunities for pupils (and their parents) to learn methods of sustainable soil management and to test them in school gardens by providing schools with competent advisors who design teaching units together with school principals and those responsible for teaching and support them in the practical implementation, especially in the creation of school gardens. At the same time, school curricula are developed which can later also serve as guidelines for other schools.

Students: In the past, students of the Faculté d'Agronomie of the National University of Rwanda (today: University of Rwanda) have visited the experimental and demonstration areas of the PASI during numerous courses. The project provides students at the most important universities in the country with knowledge of tropical agroforestry and resource conservation through internships and theses. As graduates are highly likely to occupy high-ranking positions in Rwanda later on, the expected multiplier effect is very great.


The PARES project was supported by the Ministry of the Environment, Forestry and Consumer Protection of Rhineland-Palatinate (MFUV), the Ministry of the Interior and Sport of Rhineland-Palatinate (ISM), by the University of Koblenz-Landau and by Deutsche Welthungerhilfe (DWHH) within the framework of a project cooperation with a total of 310,000 euro.