Redefining the Family Farmer


At Gardens for Health International, we invest in the resilience of the land that we farm.

“I have been living here my whole life. This land that I live on, it is the heritage of my parents.It is difficult to find land to buy. People like to remain with their lands.” (Jean Damascene Iyamuremye, GHI Partner, Gataraga, Musanze, Rwanda)

When we invest in resilient land, we invest in the resilience of Rwanda’s growth and in its most productive asset. In the daily lives of the men and women with whom we partner, however, land retains value above its contribution to national GDP or stabilizing impact on trade deficits. Land ensures financial security and individual economic agency. Land anchors familial relationships and offers a forum for collaborative decision-making within marriages. Land provides a template for families to grow better health. When invest in the resilience of land, we invest in the resilience of families- not only economically but psychologically, socially and physically.

Land absorbs financial shocks at the macro-level in Rwanda, says Jean, “When we [Rwandans] have farmed and observed a good harvest, we will not go looking for donations. We will sustain ourselves financially.”

Beatrice Mayirahare lives in Kabere Sector, Musanze District. She and her husband earn a living from the land that they own, profiting from ibitoke (green, starchy cooking bananas). Jean Damascene farms in nearby Gataraga Sector, on a 30 by 40 meter plot divided according to function: home vegetable garden (10m by 15m), staple crops for home consumption (10m by 20m), and market vegetable production (10m by 10m). He and his wife, GHI partner Beatrice Nyirabaritonda, testify to the stabilizing influence of land in Rwandan microeconomies, speaking from the household level. Jean comments on the reluctance of Gataraga residents to part with their lands, a reluctance informed by financial and familial considerations:

“They [my neighbors] think, ‘what if we sell and use the money from the land? What if we invest the money and we lose it? How will we sustain ourselves without our land?”

Jean notes that while small-scale agriculture rarely exempts farmers from economic hardship, farmers in Gataraga reject positive financial trade-offs associated with selling land. To invest extra-agriculturally is to abandon certainty. Faced with lean harvests, income-earners pursue casual labor rather than sacrifice land ownership. While holdings vary in size, residents in Gataraga tend to be owners. Renting land is rare. Angelique Mukanoheri describes the prevelance of land ownership in nearby Kimonyi Sector, weighing the benefits of ownership relative to tenancy. Psychologically, land is security. But it is also freedom, it is also agency, it is the space to envision and actualize a valuable life:

“When you own your land you can cultivate any crop that you want. When you rent, you have to maximize your harvest to make a profit [quickly], because you have invested your money in renting. You can rent for a year, or you can rent for a season. Some crops take more than a season to grow, so you are limited in what you can cultivate.” (Angelique Mukanoheri, GHI partner, Kimonyi, Musanze)

According to Jean and Angelique, those with “large lands” cultivate high-value produce such as tomatoes or garlic. Revenue fuels home construction and rehabilitation. Land bestows comparable financial flexibility even upon owners of “small” or “average” plots-marginal surplus income equips owners to navigate financial emergencies, contribute to monthly savings accounts, or to incrementally increase the size of their farms.

In Gataraga, an average-size plot comparable to Jean’s costs about 800,000 RWF, or about 50,000 RWF (75 USD) per year to rent. For those financially capable of making a purchase, non-monetary barriers may preclude ownership. Common barriers include the bureaucratic burden of title transfers-prospective owners must take a signed transfer for authorization at the sector level at a 27,000 RWF fee-and the scarcity of unclaimed land. Land performs important social functions, and transfers occur in the context of family relationships. These family relationships may supercede individual economic agency. A farmer’s commitment to his or her land reflects not only a desire for financial security but also the social realities that define his or her life. Most people stay with their lands, because their lands are family lands.

“When I got married for the first time, my parents gave me a large plot of land. Unfortunately my wife died. My parents divided [the original piece of] land into two portions, one for my [second] wife and I and the other for the children from my first marriage.”

Angelique, born in Nyamugari Village, Kimonyi, moved to a new home-also in Nyamugari-after her marriage in 2013. She and her husband co-manage a plot, heritage from his family. While inheritance practices demonstrate the way in which land responds to social systems, the way that land is managed enables families to establish, reinvent and maintain these systems. Both Jean and Angelique engage in intentional, routinized discussions with their partners about land, each assuming equal responsibility for land-related tasks and land-specific decision-making. Angelique and her husband adjusted land use practices after enrolling in the GHI program and learning the benefits of nutritional diversity. The two structure their household economy such that they can consume nutritionally balanced diets, allocating garden space accordingly. The couple also plans to build a home on an unused portion of their property, renting to tenants for extra income.


“Our plan is to build another house. We will make 3,000 RWF per month, and when we save this, if we save enough, we will be able to buy livestock. We will continue cultivating on the remaining piece of land. We have started to construct the house. We both have casual jobs, so if we are able to make 10,000-15,000 RWF per month, we can buy wood, iron sheets, and other construction materials.”

In Gataraga and Kimonyi, land is security and agency. Land is family. Empowered by nutritional knowledge, family investments in land resilience also guard against threats to physical health.

“When you have a plot of land, even if it is a small plot, if you are lucky and it is fertile, it helps you take care of your family, it gives you food and nothing is better than that.”

At GHI, we believe in the power of our partners to achieve food security. But we desire more for our partners, and Jean and Angelique desire more for their children. By investing in resilient land, families invest in the building blocks not only of food security but of nutrient security, in a roadmap not only out of hunger but out of malnutrition. Angelique grows kale, eggplant, amarynth, nightshade, onions, and peppers in Kimonyi. She says,

“I can have food from my land in three colors: green (vegetables), brown (beans), and white (bananas and corn).”

Managed judiciously, land empowers farmers not only to feed their families but to nourish them. In committing to resilient land, GHI echoes the commitments of thousands of farmers across Rwanda. In investing in resilient land, we invest in resilient families: psychologically, socially, and physically.


Umurima w’Ubuzima uziba icyuho kiri hagati y’umusaruro w’ubuhinzi no kurya indyo itandukanye.Ukurikije ishami ry’umuryango w’abibumbye ryita ku biribwa n’ubuhinzi (According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), “Kwigisha imirire myiza ahanini nicyo kibura kugira ngo uhuze iterambere ry’ubwihaze mu biribwa n’iterambere ry’imirire myiza.” Imirire myiza kurushaho, nk’intego yo kugira icyakorwa ahanini ni ntashidikanywaho. Ariko nyamara umuco wo kugira amahitamo meza y’ubuzima bwiza ntibyakagombye gukorwa gusa ahantu amahitamo meza ashoboka kandi anahari. Bose hamwe ari abafatanyabikorwa ba Gardens for Health n’abigisha ubuzima n’ubuhinzi bafatanya guteza imbere amahitamo meza yerekeranye n’ubuzima, ndetse no kubaka ahantu hemerera ayo mahitamo kubaho ku rwego rw’umuryango n’urw’umuryango mugari.  Mu miryango migari igera kuri 18 Abigisha ubuzima n’ubuhinzi ba GHI 36 bongerera imbaraga imiryango kugira ngo ibashe guhitamo imirire myiza kurushaho.

Gusura imiryango

Abakozi ba GHI bakorera mu muryango mugari kuri buri kigo nderabuzima dukorana basura buri muryango wabaruwe nibura inshuro eshatu mu mezi atatu yabo ya mbere bamara muri gahunda yacu. Gusura imiryango bituma abakozi bacu bakorera mu muryango mugari babasha gukusanya amakuru y’ingenzi atuma gahunda ya GHI igera ku ntego yiyemeje ndetse akanabafasha kubaka umubano ushingiye ku cyizere hagati yabo n’imiryango dukorana. Mu gusura imiryango, abigisha ubuzima n’ubuhinzi babasha kumenya niba umuryango ufite ubwisungane mu kwivuza, bafite aho bahinga umurima w’igikoni cyangwa niba hari gahunda barimo yo kuboneza urubyaro. Gusura imiryango bituma abigisha begera abaturanyi, abafashamyumvire mu muryango mugari cyangwa abandi bafite icyo bapfana bafitanye umubano mwiza n’umuryango ku buryo bagira inama umuryango ku byerekeye imibereho myiza yawo. Abigisha ubuzima n’ubuhinzi batuma imiryango dukorana igira uruhare mu kwikemurira ibibazo, ikagaragaza imbogamizi ifite mu kujya muri gahunda hanyuma bagafatanyiriza hamwe gushaka ibisubizo. Binyuze mu gusura imiryango, abigisha n’abafatanyabikorwa bigira hamwe ndetse bakanagerageza gutuma umuryango mugari uba wuje ubuzima buzira umuze.

Gusura imiryango: Amabwiriza agenga abakozi bakorera mu muryango mugari

  • Kwemera hakabaho ibiganiro imbona nkubone
  • Kwemera umuryango wose n’undi uwo ariwe wese wakangurira imiryango dukorana bakamwumva maze bakagira uruhare mu biganiro.
  • Guha agaciro no kwemera ibyo imiryango isanzwe ikora neza mu ngo zabo.
  • Kwemera ko zo gushyira gahunda yacu mu bikorwa bitandukanye bitewe na buri muryango, no gufatanya na buri muryango ku giti cyawo kugira ngo mwishakire ibisubizo.
  • Kugaragaza guca bugufi, kwifatanya n’ababaye no kubereka ubushuti.


Rwaza, Musanze, Rwanda
Julienne na Agathe

Julienne Kanziga ukomoka i Rwaza, muri Musanze yashyize imbaraga ze zose mu gushyira mu bikorwa gahunda ya GHI. Umwigisha ubuzima n’ubuhinzi we, Agathe Sibomana, ibi arabyemeza.

Julienne, ni umubyeyi wabyaye impanga inshuro eshatu, yamenye ko abana n’ubwandu bwa sida ubwo yari atwite Sonia Mystica, ubu ufite imyaka itatu. Kuba Julienne abana n’ubwandu, byajyanye no guhabwa akato, guhezwa mu bandi ndetse no kubura umutekano hamwe n’uwo bashakanye. Nyuma gato yo kubyara, impanga ya Sonia yitabye Imana. Mu gihe Sonia yari akiri umwana muto, Julienne yahanganye n’agahinda gakabije. Imirire ya Sonia yagiye irudubi mu gihe kimwe n’ubuzima bwa mama we bwo mu mutwe bwarushagaho kuba bubi.

Uyu munsi, Julienne asangira imbuto zo gutera n’abaturanyi be. Yerekera abandi guteka n’imirire myiza mu mudugudu w’iwabo wa Ryampunga. Ibigeragezo yaciyemo abifata nk’isomo benshi bakwigiraho ndetse ubuhamya bwe arirekura akabubwira abandi bagore b’i Rwaza. Umugabo we w’umusirikare nawe afite ibye bibazo bijyanye n’ubuzima bwo mu mutwe kandi abana n’ubwandu bwa sida. Bombi basubiranye umubano mwiza nyuma y’uko Agathe abunze. Iyo batameze neza umwe atega amatwi undi akamuganiriza. Iyo bari mu bihe by’uburwayi, Julienne amwitaho mu gihe mu gihe umugabo we aba ari kuvurirwa bitaro by’indwara zo mu mutwe bya Ndera.

“Nkibarurwa muri gahunda ya GHI, nari mfite agahinda gakabije, na Sonia yari afite ikibazo cy’imirire mibi. Nkitwita Sonia, Nahise menya ko mbana n’ubwandu bwa sida. Kuva ubwo natangiye guhabwa akato. Abaturanyi banjye bahise batangira gukwirakwiza impuha. Sonia yari afite impanga irapfa. Byari bigoye cyane kubyakira. Mu gihe [GHI] yaduhaga amahugurwa kuri sida, numvise ngize ipfunwe nkumva ko ari njye bari kwigishaho.  Natekerezaga ko kuba abantu bose bazi ko mbana n’ ubwandu, ari njye bari gutekerezaho. Nahise ntangira kurira. Jean Marie na Agathe [Abigisha ubuzima n’ubuhinzi i Rwaza] baransohoye hanyuma nanjye mbabwira byose. Bambwiye ko sida ari indwara nk’izindi zose. Agathe yamfashije kwiyakira. Ubu numva ntacyo bintwaye kuba nabwira abandi babyeyi ubuhamya bwanjye. Iyo nta ntege mfite zo kujya kwifatira imiti igabanya ubukana kwa muganga, Agathe angirayo.Yitabira n’inama zanjye z’abantu bita ku babana n’ubwandu, iyo badutumye utwitaho.”

Uko Agathe abitekereza:

“Julienne na Sonia bari barwaye cyane, noneho ikiyongeragaho yari afitanye ibibazo n’umuryango w’umugabo we, bashakaga kumwirukana mu rugo aho yabaga. Ibyo bibazo byose byatumaga agira ibitekerezo byo kuba yakwiyahura. Umutima wanjye wari ufite agahinda kubera ibyo yanyuzemo. Bwari ubwambere anyeruriye amakuru nk’ayo ababaje. Nakomeje kujya musura hanyuma ajyenda akira buhoro buhoro none arakomeye. Iyo wubatse umubano mwiza n’imiryango, bakubwira ibyo batekereza batakwishisha, aha niho witegereza aho bafite imbaraga n’aho bafite intege nke maze ukabafasha gutera imbere. Numva binyongereye imbaraga ndetse nkanabifata nk’igihembo iyo mfashije umuryango mu gihe bafite ibibazo by’ingutu. Nicyo gituma ndushaho gukunda akazi kanjye.”

Kuri Julienne, Agathe na mugenzi we bafatanya kwigisha, Jean-Marie Mwiseneza ni abavandimwe kuri we: “Ubwo umuhungu wanjye yajyaga guhabwa isakaramentu ryo guhabwa ukarisitiya, uwamubyaye muri batisimu yanze kuza kuko mbana n’ubwandu bwa sida. Jean Marie yaramusimbuye amubyara mu isakaramentu ryo guhabwa ukarisitiya.”

Kuri Agathe, Julienne ni “umugore wubaha isezerano, ibyo yiyemeje arabikora.”

Rubungo, Gasabo, Rwanda
Liberatha na Patience

Uruhare rwa Liberatha Mukaneza mu muryango mugari aturukamo ruhora ruhinduka. Ruhora ruhinduka neza kandi ni runini mu nzego zitandukanye, kuko ahora aganiriza bagenzi be hari ibyo ashaka kubumvisha. Yunganira ushinzwe umutekano mu mudugudu we. Nk’umuntu wabaye muri gahunda ya GHI, ishema ryo gufasha umuryango mugari ryiyongeyeho akarusho ko kuba yarabaye muri gahunda. Uko Liberatha abayeho muri Rubungo bituma abasha gufatanya na Patience igihe ari guca mu bibazo by’urugo rwe, cyangwa impinduka zo mu muryango mugari, cyangwa se kubaka icyizere mu muryango mugari. Ubunararibonye afite mu muryango mugari ahari bugaragaza ibyo we ubwe yanyuzemo n’amakimbirane yagiye acamo. Umwana we muto muri bose Noella yagiraga umutwaro kubera impuha zavugwaga, akato no kubura umutuzo, n’imirire mibi ari ingaruka igendana n’agahinda gakabije mu rugo. Patience agira ati:

“Liberatha yari yarashatse afite abana babiri n’umugabo wa mbere, ariko aza kwitaba Imana. Yarongeye arashaka ndetse abyara abandi bana batatu. Uko ari babiri n’umugabo biyemeje kuvanga imitungo yabo yose. Abantu nibwo batangiye gukwiza impuha, bavuga ko yafashe umutungo wakagombye gutunga ba bana be babiri ba mbere akaba atangiye kuwutungisha abana yabyaranye n’umugabo we mushya. Narabicaje turaganira hanyuma bafata umwanzuro ko amakimbirane yabo yose ashingiye ku mpuha. Nababwiye ko ibyo tuganiriye ari ibanga kugira ngo tuganire ku buzima bwacu twese. Ntago byari byoroshye kuko bombi ari bakuru kuri njye. Bafite umukobwa tungana, barambyaye.”


Nubwo imyaka yabo itandukanye, Patience yatumye hashobora kubaho hanagumaho umwuka w’ubworoherane n’ubwizerane mu mubano we na Liberatha.

“Icyizere mfitiye Patience ni ikintu gikomeye. Yaje mu buzima bwacu atubera inshuti, ariko ntibyagarukiye aho. Ni inshuti ikomeye kuko n’iyo aje kwigisha abandi babyeyi- n’iyo naba ntamwiteguye, aca mu rugo. Yagerageje kuduhuza n’izindi nshuti. Ubu mfite inshuti nyinshi kurusha mbere kubera Patience.”

GHI ishishikariza abakozi bayo bakorera mu muryango mugari “kwicarana n’abafatanyabikorwa bacu aho bicaye mu rwego rwo kugaragaza kwicisha bugufi.” Kuba abigisha ubuzima n’ubuhinzi ndetse n’imiryango dukorana bakenerana bituma habaho umwuka mwiza mu ngo uteza imbere ubuzima buzira umuze ndetse bikongera imbaraga zo kugira amahitamo meza arebana n’ubuzima.

“Kubaka umubano mwiza n’ababyeyi ni ingenzi cyane kandi bifitiye akamaro gahunda ya GHI, kuko aribo badufasha kumvisha abandi babyeyi mu muryango mugari bityo iyo batuvuzeho ibyiza, byorohera abandi babyeyi bo mu byiciro biba bizaza kutugirira icyizere. Iyo turi gushakisha imiryango ikibarurwa muri gahunda, atuyobora aho batuye kuko ari mu buyobozi bw’inzego z’ibanze kandi azi abantu benshi bo mu mudugudu we. Mba nzi ko Liberatha namushaka akamfasha.”