In many villages, land restoration and environmental preservation practices are commonly reserved for men. However, this has not stopped 38-year-old Beatrice, a mother of three children, from championing green practices and supporting farmers to adopt them for the past four years.
Beatrice is a proud lead farmer in her village and supports over 50 farmers in her village in Bugesera District. Every two weeks, she visits more than 36 farmers to guide them on different land restoration practices such as tree planting and soil management. She also mobilises and encourages female farmers to take up the lead.
A proud champion of green practices, Beatrice understands well the benefits of these practices to her and her family. Through the growing of fruit trees like avocados and papaya, she has increased her children’s immunity as they eat these fruits. This has not only reduced her costs of buying fruits, but also increased her income through selling the fruits.
In addition, plants like coriander helped Beatrice to prevent soil erosion in her garden. “During rainy seasons like these, it was very hard for me because the soil would be washed away. With the introduction of coriander the soil is preserved,” she says.
Beatrice also says that her agricultural production has increased due to the use of glicidia trees and other fertiliser trees. During cultivation, she prunes the trees and their leaves add nutrients to the soil. Today, she is working on a piece of land where she harvested over 1,000kgs.
The benefits of land restoration practices are countless, especially for women like Beatrice. Such practices have proven capable of reducing the time women and children spend looking for firewood. Most of the time. women and children are the ones to collect firewood in the morning and evening. Trees like graviera provide firewood to farmers.
“The time that we have been spending in collecting firewood will be spent on doing other productive work!”, attests a proud Beatrice.
Although there are many benefits registered by farmers, Beatrice says that there are also challenges faced. During the dry season, Bugesera District becomes very dry, to the point where trees may start to dry up soon after just being planted. Women also face a challenge when the trees are grown and they need to prune the branches. Most of them are hesitant to climb trees to cut down the branches, so they have to hire men to do the work for them.
Women also sometimes face the challenge of deciding on the kind of trees to plant on their farms. Sometimes, men do not understand why they have to plant certain types of trees; they usually want to grow the traditional trees which are known to provide them timber. “We try to make sure men understand land restoration practices so that both men and women support each other”, Beatrice explains.
As we mark this year's International Mother Earth Day on 22 April, Beatrice urges women to get involved in land restoration practices because their efforts are needed and they are equally capable. She says that planting trees like fruits trees also help family nutrition.
“I would like to encourage women in farming. They should not underestimate themselves. Women are also capable of doing what men can do. We can also contribute to preserving our environment through growing trees!”, she concludes.
By Charity Beza Uwase - Communications Officer