Rwanda: new drive to promote agro-forestry
The world Agro-forestry Centre moved to strengthen partnership with natural resources, agriculture and infrastructure ministries in identifying smart agro-forestry systems to help develop 'integrated-food-energy systems' in Rwanda. Announcing the development yesterday in Kigali, Adrie Mukashema, the deputy director general of forest management at Rwanda Natural Resources Authority, said the move seeks to pursue efficient clean bio-energy production and boost agriculture productivity. "The system integrates trees on farmlands. They avail bio-energy, especially in rural areas and reduce threats to other forests. The related biomass (charcoal and firewood) must also be produced in sustainable and efficient ways that control gas emission leading to climate change. Agro-forestry also increases agriculture productivity by enriching soil fertility and curb soil erosion among other things," she said.
Wood fuel, Mukashema said, will remain the only affordable fuel for the majority of Rwandans. To date, 93 percent of Rwandans depend on biomass energy for cooking, while Kigali's demand covers 60 percent of the national charcoal production.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, biomass is used by more than 80 percent of urban households as the main source of cooking energy and its demand is expected to double in Africa by 2030, fuelled by rapid urbanisation and population growth.
Navin Sharma, the programme director of bio-fuels at World Agro-forestry Centre (ICRAF), cited World Health Organisation figures that indicate that Rwanda is among the 20 worst countries globally in terms of indoor pollution leading to an estimated 12 500 fatalities per year.
Mukashema said 1 265 farmers were trained in agro-forestry. She said agro-forestry current coverage of 5 percent is expected to be doubled by 2020.
She added that over 670 people have also been trained in improved charcoal making to curb carbon emissions and deforestation.
Athanase Mukurarinda, the ICRAF country representative, said the joint efforts aim at exchanging knowledge on agro-forestry and bio-energy technologies, financing and draft concept for facilitating national and international cooperation to achieve integrated food-energy development in the country.
Source: www.allafrica.com (Edited)