The World Food Programme (WFP) has officially handed over agricultural assets resulting from the Sustainable Market Alliance and Asset Creation for Resilient Communities and Gender Transformation (SMART) project.
This four-year, $8 million initiative, launched in July 2020 and set to conclude in June 2024, has been an example of collaboration between international partners and local communities, making a significant impact on food security and gender equality in five districts: Nyaruguru, Nyamagabe, Rutsiro, Karongi, and Kayonza.
Funded primarily by the Republic of Korea through the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the SMART project also received vital multilateral support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
At the handover ceremony, which took place in Nyamirama sector of Kayonza district, Dr. Jeanne Nyirahabimana, the Eastern Province Executive Secretary, expressed the importance of strong partnerships in fostering meaningful community change. The Korean Ambassador to Rwanda, Woo-Jin Jeong, was also present at the event.
The SMART project was designed to support rural communities in their quest to achieve ‘Zero Hunger.’ It aimed to enhance agricultural productivity, build climate resilience, and promote gender equality by increasing access to food, sustainable agricultural practices, and market opportunities.
To achieve this, WFP collaborated with six NGO partners, including Good Neighbors International (GNI), DUHAMIC ADRI, Rwanda Development Organization (RDO), Rwanda Rural Rehabilitation Initiative (RWARRI), Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), and Cord-Aid.
The project achieved remarkable outcomes, including improved food security, enhanced resilience to shocks, increased agricultural productivity, and the development of marketable surpluses. It also bolstered local capacity in nutrition, gender equality, and climate-sensitive program implementation.
One of the project’s significant accomplishments was the rehabilitation of over 1,100 hectares of agricultural land using terracing on hillslopes and marshland rehabilitation techniques to prevent soil erosion and increase food production.
This benefited 10,466 smallholder farmers across the five districts. In addition, community-level irrigation systems were installed, enhancing the food security of nearly 47,000 households.
Moreover, the project facilitated connections between smallholder farmers and formal buyers, leading to a substantial increase in maize sales, from 15.38 MT in 2021 to 265.38 MT in 2022. These achievements have made a significant difference in the lives of local farmers and their families.
In Kayonza district, a solar-powered irrigation system was installed in the Murama sector, mitigating drought susceptibility and reducing the risk of water shortages for agriculture. Farmers like Jean Baptist Harorimana have experienced a transformative change in their lives, enabling them to grow crops year-round and significantly boost their income.
Jean Baptist Harorimana, a 51-year-old farmer, shared his success story: “I successfully grew watermelon on 0.20 Ha, amaranths on 0.10 Ha, cabbages on 0.12 Ha, and beetroots on 0.10 Ha.
The WFP-installed irrigation scheme has been instrumental, and we anticipate bountiful yields each season. Moreover, the project educated us on effective farming techniques, significantly boosting our overall production.”
The SMART project also played a crucial role in connecting smallholder farmers with schools participating in the school meals program, increasing farmers’ income and enabling families to improve their standard of living.
Andrea Bagnoli, WFP Representative and Country Director, reaffirmed WFP’s commitment to supporting vulnerable communities in achieving zero hunger and promoting sustainable food systems.
He noted: “This project has significantly improved food security and uplifted countless lives over the past three and a half years through good agricultural practices, sustainable market access, and the creation of climate-resilient assets spanning over 1,100 hectares of land.”
Throughout the project, beneficiaries received training in various areas, including good agricultural practices, cooperative strengthening, livestock rearing, nutrition, and gender-transformative activities.
The success of the SMART project is a testament to the collaborative efforts of the World Food Programme, the Government of Rwanda, and various partners and communities. As the project enters its next phase, WFP reiterates its commitment to the shared goal of a gender-equal Rwanda, free from hunger and malnutrition.