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Rwanda: Terracing Hailed As Key Hunger Solution

A scheme to build terraced farms in the fertile hills of Cyungo has transformed the area into a local breadbasket. During her recent visit, WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said the project marked an important breakthrough in the fight against hunger in one of the poorest regions in the world.

A scheme to build terraced farms in the fertile hills of Cyungo has transformed the area into a local breadbasket. During her recent visit, WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said the project marked an important breakthrough in the fight against hunger in one of the poorest regions in the world.

CYUNGO – WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran has hailed the transformation of eroded, barren hillsides in Rwanda into terraced farmland brimming with wheat as an outstanding example of what is needed to win the fight against hunger.

“This is what we need to achieve to defeat hunger in the world,” said Sheeran on a recent visit to the project in central Rwanda, where 4,000 people worked for a year to build terraces on 240 hectares of hillsides in return for WFP food for them and their families.

“What we see here is that people in Cyungo depended on WFP food for many years. But today Cyungo produces enough food to feed itself and also to sell some of that food. So farmers have an income here. This is the type of thing we are trying to replicate and this is why Cyungo has got the attention of the world.”

A success story

Farmers alternate growing wheat, which they sell, and Irish potatoes, which they eat, on the terraces. They also grow fodder on the slopes between the terraces and collect it to feed cows, which provide the community with milk. The manure is spread on the terraces.

“You have taken a land broken by genocide and sorrow and restored hope and reconciliation and dreams. You have taken a barren land and made it bountiful,” Sheeran told families surrounded by neat terraces full of wheat ready to be harvested.

“You have fed your people. You have tripled your incomes. And now you are selling your food to people beyond Cyungo,” Sheeran told the crowd. “We expect that the farmers of Rwanda and Cyungo will help feed not only Rwanda, but also the region and the world.”

Learning from Rwanda

Sheeran said that following the 1994 genocide, the people of Rwanda had taken control of their own destiny and worked together so they were now helping feed the world. “This is very inspiring. So we’re also here to learn what Rwanda can teach the world.”

Before terracing began in 2007 and 2008, local officials said only 25 percent of the land was planted. Now some 95 percent of the land is producing wheat, potatoes and peas. Since 2007, some 2,000 hectares in Rwanda has been terraced through WFP projects.

Photos copyright: WFP/Rebecca Richards