How multi actor communities of practice enhance and support the spread of push-pull technology among smallholder farmers in East Africa
During a meeting in Rwanda, organized by Food for the Hungry (FH) Association Rwanda and Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) on December 8-9th 2021, smallholder farmers share their experiences, challenges and need for support and information in implementing push-pull technology.
We have been using conventional methods for growing crops. Pests and diseases have always been a challenge, especially in cereals; we lost a considerable quantity due to stem borers, fall armyworm, and Striga infestation in our plantations. Since Food for the Hungry (FH) introduced Push-Pull technology, there have been remarkable crop production and livestock due to the crops’ decreased weed, pests, and diseases. We are constantly receiving information from FH staff on how to establish push-pull plots using desmodium and brachiaria properly. We are very grateful for this support. However, the challenges persist; we don’t find the seeds of braccharia and desmodium easily in the area, we don’t have adequate tools and equipment for post-harvest handling, and since our production has increased, we need storage facilities to stores our harvest to avoid post-harvest losses which might occur buy improper storing and handling practices.
I am the deputy chair of the UPSCALE MAC Management committee. I am a professional supplier of agro-vet inputs in Rwanda in everyday life, but I decided to focus on the grassroots area. I used to work on development projects, then I decided as an empowered woman to start my enterprise. Due to my long experience in agriculture extensions, I decided to go in Ago-vet inputs. I started small but, I am growing fast. I recently got a grant from USAID worth 92,000 USD to support my newly established farm service center. This farm service center, I am envisioning to bring all aspects a farmer could need, from inputs, extensions services, linkages to the markets and finance, etc. Before being invited to the UPSCALE MAC meeting, I was not aware of Push-Pull, but I was very interested when I learned its benefits. Luckily, I was also elected as the Deputy Chair of the Mac Management committee. I am now looking to promote the push-pull technology in this center, and establishing many demo plots and bringing the quality seeds of desmodium and brachiaria closer to the community.
As a farmer, I feel privileged to be a member of the UPSCALE MAC Management committee. For a long time, I have thought that I could not participate in the formulation of interventions done for me. I felt that I had only to accept without asking why. With UPSCALE it is different now; I feel more empowered to share my opinion and contribute to designing the best interventions tailored to our needs. Before participating in the UPSCALE MAC Meeting, I was already implementing Push-Pull Technology on my farm, but I was always complaining of not having a reliable source of desmodium and brachiaria. After participating in the meeting, I decided to resolve this challenge of unavailability of inputs to myself and fellow farmers facing the same problem. I have now established nursery beds for desmodium and bracharia for multiplication; I am currently producing a good quantity that is more than what I could use on my farm. I have not yet started selling the surplus, but I plan to. I would also need practical training and study tours to learn how to produce quality seeds of desmodium and bracharia because we only propagate these plants using asexual methods. I want to ask also for assistance to get reliable markets for these produces.
Organizers’ Testimonial: Didier NKUBITO, FH Food Security and Livelihoods Specialist
During the MAC meeting held on May 05-06, 2021, with various stakeholders to introduce the project and select the National Multi Actor Communities members, the participants elected a management committee composed of 12 members from different institutions to coordinate the activities of the MAC. Since its formation in July 2021, the MAC Management committee has contributed a lot in exchanging information, organizing and expanding UPSCALE activities, promoting push-pull technology and other agroecology practices. We now have many partners contributing to promoting the adoption of Push-Pull in one way or another; some are supporting the farmer in different parts of the countries with extensions services on push-pull, others are availing needed inputs for establishing the push-pull. Each of us is contributing in his/her way. Over the coming days, we are looking forward to increasing our efforts to adopt the push-pull technology by generating more tangible information on it, showing its benefits compared to conventional methods. Researchers are doing tremendous work studying various parameters. The outcomes of these researches will be communicated among us and disseminated to a wider audience.
Rwanda UPSCALE MAC Management Second Meeting took place on 08-09 December 2021. The meeting was organized by Food for the Hungry (FH) Association Rwanda and Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB). It was held at the INFINITY Hotel located in Gatsibo District, Eastern Province of Rwanda.