Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for International Markets and Development Marisa Lago recently traveled to Rwanda to visit a variety of project sites in land husbandry, water harvesting, and hillside irrigation funded through Feed the Future and development partners including the World Bank, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), the Canadian International Development Agency, and the Government of Rwanda. One of the biggest threats to smallholder farmers in Rwanda is the loss of topsoil on hillside plots, which reduces the productivity of their land. Through the support of Feed the Future and its partners, Rwanda has begun an extensive program of hillside terracing to conserve water, soil, and fertilizer. This enables farmers to better feed their communities and promotes economic stability.
In some of the newly terraced areas, Assistant Secretary Lago noted that over the course of just one growing season, potato harvests have quintupled on a per-hectare basis, while maize output has increased up to 300 percent. Farmers are also accessing financial institutions for the first time, utilizing a local savings and loan cooperative to buy seeds and fertilizer and even starting up microenterprises to produce large volumes of fertilizer that can be used on the new terraced farming plots.
Reflecting on her visit, Lago noted how the interests of the United States are closely linked to those of our counterparts in other countries: “The growth in local income in Rwanda will support demand for U.S. products, and a growing agribusiness sector will offer opportunities for American exporters and investors. In addition, our support for growing economies provides more and better employment opportunities for local people, lifting them out of poverty and fostering stability that promotes the security interests of the United States and the world.”