Most famers in Shingiro sector of Musanze district in Rwanda are fond of using chemical fertilizers and artificial pesticides on their farms. Previous surveys have indicated that the artificial pesticides kill bees in the area hence failing pollination and frustrating bee keepers in the area. How then can the community live in harmony with one another – each doing their businesses without frustrating the other and other biodiversity? Salvatrice Musabyeyezu – IGCP Tourism specialist says, “there’s need to change the way we do certain things, for instance, when people take into consideration the impact on the environment around them, they can find win-win solutions to protecting their environment and producing the food and income needed to improve livelihoods”.
Having chosen garlic farming as their alternative livelihood improvement project under the Sida-IGCP funding, Koushi Cooperative was encouraged to use organic garlic and organic fertilizers on their farm and about one hundred hectares of organic garlic was planted in December 2017; the members have started harvesting the garlic and so far sold over 600kgs. One Kilogram of garlic costs between180-190 RFW (2.1 – 2.2$). “We chose garlic because it is high paying, grows well in our sector and there’s ready market for it. The use of organic seeds and fertilizers and farming method introduced to us have made it even better and easier for us” reveals Eliezer Twizerimana, Chairperson Koushi Cooperative. The farming method being used helps to retain water in the soil and turns bad plants into new fertilizers hence enhancing soil protection and fertility. The use of this climate change adaptive method is aimed at raising awareness about other environmental friendly ways of farming, Salvatrice explains.
Supporting park adjacent communities in starting up alternative livelihood improvement enterprises aims at economically empowering the communities, boosting their income and consequently reducing their dependence on the park – conflict. “We are grateful for this project, we have hope that we shall realize lots of profit from it. We have agreed to use these profits to buy livestock and, expand our income generating sources” notes Bernadette Nyirahagumimana. Precisely gorilla conservation is more than just gorillas but about conserving other biodiversity around the gorillas and their habitat. If they (gorillas) are safe we are safe too.
Koushi Cooperative composed of 41 members (25 female,16 male) and found in Shingiro sector bordering Volcanoes national park is a beneficiary community-based organization (CBO) in the Leading the Change Project supported by Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) through WWF – Sweden and IGCP. The Sida-funded project aims at empowering CBOs and civil-society organizations (CSOs) in the Virunga – Bwindi landscape to exercise their rights in decision making and influence policy on natural resource management. Further the project also aims at educating and empowering the CSO/CBOs to integrate and strengthen human rights, gender and conflict sensitivity in their work.
The involvement of more women in this group is a good sign of the group’s ability to mainstream gender and also boost the socio-economic status of women (who are often the less privileged) in the community. In collaboration with Rwanda development board the cooperative among others is involved in anti-poaching campaigns among the community and building of buffalo walls to deter problem animals from leaving the park.