Home NewsNational Rwanda Finds A Formula to Mitigate Climate Change Through Agroforestry

Rwanda Finds A Formula to Mitigate Climate Change Through Agroforestry

by Daniel Sabiiti
2:35 pm

Panel discussion on research needs at the second National Agroforestry Conference held in Kigali.

The second National Agroforestry Conference opened in Kigali with a call to Rwandan farmers to shift from planting exotic trees to more indigenous as a way of protecting the environment and enhancing biodiversity in agriculture.

The 2-day conference is organized by Ministry of Environment in collaboration with European Union- Rwanda, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Belgian development agency (Enabel), and International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF), Universities of Rwanda, Ghent and KU Leuven.

Trees act as guardians, mitigating the impacts of extreme weather events, regulating temperatures, and sequestering carbon dioxide; however, according to researchers, indigenous trees play a crucial role in flourishing of the biodiversity that enables a natural balance and climate mitigation compared to exotic trees.

Agroforestry, as a Nature-based solution, not only addresses climate change and biodiversity concerns but also fosters poverty reduction as it creates sources of income and food for many farmers.

The Government of Rwanda has put efforts to balance agricultural production with trees on farms and bring to 2 million hectares (ha) under restoration by 2030 through NST, green growth strategy, and the Sector Strategic Plan.

With partners, Rwanda has been working on restoration using Forest landscape restoration (FLR) packages including: agroforestry on cropping lands, improved woodlot plantation, protective forests (on riverbanks and roadsides), and natural forest rehabilitation.

Agroforestry offers the opportunity for landscape restoration (1.1 million hectares) and has become increasingly important for Rwanda’s agricultural development, however the Rwanda Forestry Authority says 80% of the trees planted are exotic, thus a need to shift the trend.

Rwanda is currently trying to address the need for agroforestry through the Development Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture (DeSIRA) action research program jointly implemented by Enabel and IUCN in collaboration with ICRAF and Universities.

The DeSIRA project aims at effectively understanding and demonstrating the ecological, social and economic pathways to, and resultant benefits from the scale up of agroforestry-based restoration and sustainable biomass use, particularly focusing on the Eastern province.

The opportunities for agroforestry landscapes restoration are approximately 500,000 hectares in the Eastern province, and the City of Kigali peri-urban areas have an estimated area of approximately 40,000 ha for horticultural value chain development opportunities.

EU officials said there is a need to mobilize funding to cover these hectares in more than five years. Each hectare is calculated at a budget of 100 euros, which means Rwanda will need an estimated 54million euros to optimize this opportunity.

Minister of Environment, Dr. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya

Minister of Environment, Dr. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, who opened the conference on May 28, 2024 said Rwanda is at the forefront of addressing the global challenges of climate change and environmental sustainability and in the face of climate change, agroforestry emerges as a crucial ally.

“Our commitment to agroforestry is a commitment to biodiversity. By diversifying our landscapes with a mix of crops and trees, we create habitats for diverse plant and animal species. The adoption of agroforestry practices stands as a beacon of hope, offering practical solutions that harmonize the needs of people and prosperity,” Mujawamariya said.

EU Ambassador to Rwanda, Belen Calvo Uyarra said the dedication of the Rwandan government to agroforestry-based restoration is commendable and demonstrates a proactive approach to transforming agriculture and food systems.

“We believe this gathering will generate valuable knowledge, paving the way for evidence-based policies and contributing to the country’s sustainable development goals towards a greener, more resilient future for Rwanda and beyond,” Tomasella said.

IUCN Rwanda Country Representative, Kaori Yasuda

IUCN Rwanda Country Representative, Kaori Yasuda called for stronger collaboration between science and policy as their work has shown that agroforestry-based restoration of degraded agricultural land, a Nature-based solution, can greatly improve the resilience of farmers’ livelihoods to climate change, while providing co-benefits that include improvements of land health, biodiversity conservation, water resources preservation and soil erosion control.

“A strong collaboration between scientists and policy makers is required to effectively implement research proven agroforestry options to enhance productive and sustainable transformation of agriculture and food systems in Rwanda”.

Enabel Rwanda Resident Representative, Dirk Deprez said at the intersection of forestry and agriculture, successful adoption of good practices by farmers necessitates the seamless integration of agroforestry into national and local forestry and agriculture policies.

“This integration requires strategic planning, sustainable fund mobilization, and coordination involving the private sector and carbon market opportunities. Applied research, providing practical solutions tailored to local contexts, is vital for supporting this integration,” Deprez said.

The second National Agroforestry Conference to pave way for a major global event in 2025

The ongoing conference brings together researchers, academic and government institutions, farmers’ organizations, civil society, international organizations, private sectors, and development partners among many others to share preliminary research results and discuss how agroforestry solutions could be applicable to the country.

Participants will be covering several themes regarding the ecosystem services of agroforestry systems; biomass and energy supply potential in agroforestry systems; the socio-economic of agroforestry adoption; agroforestry system monitoring tools and policy development.

The conference outcomes will pave the way for the World Agroforestry Congress which Rwanda will host next year in 2025 and the opportunity for Rwanda to mobilize each and every one to contribute to the organization and success of that congress.

Related Posts