Farming toward health

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While in Rwanda, I had the chance to visit two organizations that are using agricultural programs to improve health and livelihood around the country.

The first organization One Acre Fund, known by it’s local name Tubura in Rwanda, is located in western Rwanda, in the beautiful district of Kibuye that lies on Lake Kivu. They were founded in 2006 and have grown extremely rapidly at their many project sites throughout East Africa. Their Rwanda program currently works with slightly over 70,000 small holder farmers.

One Acre Funs offers each farmer loans of seeds, fertilizer, and farm inputs, in addition to training on agricultural techniques and market facilitation. All of these components work together to help farmers increase yields and profits, therefore allowing them to better support their families. The farmers have a year to pay back their loans, using money from the surplus profits in the first year. In the past year, 99% of farmers in Tubura’s programs have repaid their loans within the allotted time frame. On average, each farmer sees an increase of over $100 USD in profits in the first year.

Though One Acre does not directly track health indicators of the families in their programs yet, they are moving into the health space over the next few years. Given the increased amount of home grown food and the water filters distributed by Tubura, it will be interesting to see the health impact of an organization with such a wide reach.