Marthé Niyonambaje lives in Kinunga II, Rukara cell of Rukara sector in Kayonza District. Together with her husband, they have six children whom they struggled to raise. Marthe used to do casual work and the money she was paid was only enough for buying food for her family. Her husband lived in Nyagatare district where he looked after cows for his in-law. The family hardship prevented the family from accessing proper nutrition for children and consequently they registered among Gikuriro Program beneficiaries after their under five child was identified as having malnutrition symptoms.
Together with other beneficiaries, they started working in respective Gikuriro interventions groups in the community, including Farmer Field Learning School (FFLS) where Niyonambaje got Bio-Intensive Agriculture Techniques (BIATs) which she used to improve the living conditions of her family.
“Every time our Farmer Promoter taught us a farming technique, I was very excited and curious to replicate it. Sometimes I called the farmer promoter to confirm whether I had replicated the technique well. Neighbors were laughing at me but for the first production, they were all amazed by the surprising harvest.” She recalls.
Before adopting BIATs, Niyonambaje family was used to cultivating beans. Eating vegetables was only possible after begging from neighbors or after buying from the local market. But today, she can feed her whole family with vegetables and sell the surplus in the market.
“With all the techniques we learnt from FFLS, I was able to increase vegetable production and I could even sell some vegetables to buy other adequate nutrients to rehabilitate my child. Beyond using the production for family consumption, selling the surplus cabbages has provided me with 8,000 Rwf which I used to buy a loin cloth.”
From the first production, Niyonambaje was motivated by the harvest and she has now adopted all seven techniques that they learnt from FFLS at her home garden. Among these techniques adopted in her home include terrace garden, sunken beds, zay pits, Mandara among other techniques and through these techniques she has been able to cultivate cabbages, beetroots, amaranths, onions and other kinds of vegetables.
Recently Niyonambaje’s efforts were recognized and she was awarded through FFLS competition which rewards the best FFLS and members who showcased outstanding commitment in adoption of BIATs at village level. She was awarded with two hoes, one trident, one spade and a watering can. These prizes motivated her and encouraged her neighbors to replicate BIATs at their respective households.
“When I started applying these techniques, neighbors were laughing at me and some of the FFLS didn’t adopt any of the techniques. However, these awards have motivated most of the members and they have started to increase adoption.”
24 families of Kinunga II village in Rukara cell are now members of the FFLS among whom 20 families have adopted at least three techniques. To increase the production of nutrient foods, Gikuriro Program uses FFLS to increase agriculture production at household level by applying Bio-Intensive Agriculture Techniques (BIATs). In Kayonza districts, 475 FFLS have been established with 8775 members of which 6688 adopted the learnt BIATs.