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Burundi • DR Congo • Rwanda

Catalyze Agricultural Intensification for Social and Environmental Stability

a project for the great lakes region of central africa

Success Story

Burundi couple Reverien Nkunzumuryango and Odette Kamagama improve their harvests through cooperative membership, CATALIST training and ISFM


everien Nkunzumuryango and Odette Kamagama survived their country’s decade-long civil war by growing rice, sweet potatoes, beans and other staples to feed their two children – but achieving food security was a daily challenge for them, leaving no money for “luxuries” such as farm animals or even clothing.


everien and Odette remained in Gaharo, a farming village in drought-prone Kirundo Province of northern Burundi, while many others moved on. “Some people left our community because they could no longer afford the inputs to farm,” recalls Reverien. With the war behind them, the couple chose to rebuild their lives by helping to organize their association, Tugiringuvu Mu Bikorwa or “Use Strength to Work.” In 2007, their association joined 11 other groups to form a cooperative, named Terimberemurimyi or “Producers Develop Yourselves.” “By working together we have a better idea of what is going on in farming,” Reverien explains. It was the cooperative that led them to learn about the CATALIST trials, which offered the possibility of increasing their crop yield through Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM). These techniques incrementally increase soil nutrient levels for better crop production and thereby increase profitability. For their first rice harvest using ISFM, they borrowed 31,020 BF from CATALIST knowing they would have to repay half of it. The results were less than hoped for because the rice variety they planted was prone to disease. Nevertheless, they harvested about 300 kilos and after paying for processing and transport, they realized a profit of 245,000 BF. “If before we were producing 50 kilos and now we have more than doubled the amount, we can only be happy,” says Odette. Reverien recalls his first purchases with the rice harvest profits — new outfits for himself and his wife. The bulk of the money went towards the purchase of a cow, an investment for future milk and manure. “We couldn’t afford a cow by ourselves so we shared one with a neighbor,” he explains. After that first season, they received bean seeds for planting from CATALIST. The crop was plentiful without any additional need for fertilizers since the land remained fertile from the previous use of inputs. The couple earned 83,000 BF for the harvest. “Before CATALIST we produced 10-15 kilos of beans, but afterwards it jumped to 40-70 kilos for the same area!” Reverien grins. He goes on to say that when other farmers see their results, they ask to join the cooperative. Now that their crop production has increased, the couple is seeking to increase revenues through processing. The cooperative is exploring the possibility of using the inventory credit system, or “warrantage,” in which future crop yield is used as collateral to obtain credit. Access to credit would allow the cooperative’s 130 members to acquire a machine for processing their rice harvest. This would mean that farmers like Odette and Reverien could almost double their market price. “One kilo of paddy rice is valued at 550 BF, but when it has been hulled we can earn 890 BF,” Odette confirms with a smile.

CATALIST/SEW Henk Breman (Chief of Party) | This is a publication of the IFDC-implemented CATALIST Project. | | Funding is generously provided by the Netherlands Directorate-General for Development Cooperation (DGIS).





IFDC Rwanda 3064 - Akanyaru Street, Kiyovu P. O. Box 6758 - Kigali, Rwanda Telephone: +250 551 042 11

IFDC Burundi 3 - Bweru Street Rohero II P. O. Box 1995, Bujumbura Telephone: +257 22 25 78 75 +257 22 27 35 66

IFDC Congo Q. Himbi, Goma Telephone: +243 813 134 697

Helpage Regional Headquarters B.P. 6682 - Ville de Kigali Rwanda Telephone: +250 (0)25 25 34 87 +250 (0)25 25 34 88

Improving Harvests Through Cooperative Membership  

Improving Harvests Through Cooperative Membership

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