Francis Munyengango worked his family’s 1 acre (0.4ha) plot of land in the hills of Rwanda. His annual yield of two bags of beans was not enough to feed his family, or provide income for his children’s school fees. The Rwanda Institute of Agronomic Sciences (ISAR) invited Francis to join a project supported by AGRA’s Soil Health Programme.
Since 2009, The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has trained an estimated 1.8 million farmers in 13 African countries in ‘integrated soil fertility management’ (ISFM). IFSM encourages a wide range of soil management and farming techniques such as modest applications of mineral fertilisers combined with organic matter, such as crop residue or animal manure, and intercropping with nutrient rich legumes like cowpea, pigeon pea, beans or soybeans. Other practices aim to reduce soil erosion, improve water efficiency and reduce tillage.
Together, AGRA and ISAR discovered that Francis was trying to grow beans in highly acidic soil that needed lime to neutralise the acid. By applying lime, mineral and organic fertiliser, alongside other ISFM practices, Francis’ yields grew from 2 to 5 bags, enough to feed his family and sell his surplus at the local market to earn additional income.