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Agroforestry director meets with Rwandan farmers

Three people pose for a photo.
Susan Stein from the USDA Forest Service National Agroforestry Center (left) and Phoebe from the USAID-funded Hinga Weze program (center) meet with a smallholder farmer in the Bugasera district of Rwanda. USDA Forest Service photo by Grace Swanson.

WASHINGTON, DC—With the highest population density in sub-Saharan Africa, land in Rwanda is in high demand. One of the methods to manage this limitation is using agroforestry practices to increase agricultural productivity and diversity even on small plots of land.

Alongside colleagues from Hinga Weze, a USAID-funded program, Susan Stein, director of the USDA Forest Service National Agroforestry Center, recently traveled to Rwanda. She met with a number of farmers during her visit, some of whom were just beginning to experiment with agroforestry. She also met with several stakeholders, including local cooperatives, partner nurseries, researchers and government organizations. Stein was able to discuss strategies for increasing agricultural yield with farmers and other stakeholders.

The trip culminated in a presentation given to Hinga Weze and USAID leadership outlining recommended strategies for achieving their agroforestry goals. The presentation covered several themes including: leveraging partnerships and existing networks, building capacity at the national, district and local levels, and outlining methods for how to prioritize various landscapes.

Stein’s travel came through her detail in International Programs. The meetings and training in Rwanda took place in partnership with Hinga Weze, which focuses on increasing the income of Rwanda’s smallholder farmers, improving nutritional status of women and children and making food systems more resilient to a changing climate.

The USDA Forest Service has worked in Rwanda for over a decade, cooperating with in-country partners to conserve the country’s rich natural heritage while also providing for its growing population. Since 2005, the agency has worked with the International Gorilla Conservation Programme, Wildlife Conservation Society, Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association and local communities on issues related to water monitoring, fire management and endangered species conservation.

A group of people stand in a small farm.
Director of the National Agroforestry Center Susan Stein met with farmers and community members in Rwanda to learn about local methods and assess where additional agroforestry training or resources might be beneficial. USDA Forest Service photo by Grace Swanson.