New warehouse stores up a peaceful future

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Thanks to a new rice warehouse and de-husking unit in the Gilharo Commune in Burundi 1,000 rice farmers from 50 farmers’ associations have now got the facilities to store seeds and process rice.

Along with improved seeds and fertilisers from Cord the unit is having a huge impact on the whole community.

The unit, built with funds from Jersey Overseas Aid Commission (JOAC), will allow more seeds to be stored for planting next year meaning that the community is better prepared for next season.

A report by Oxfam International in June 2011* stated that 72 per cent of the population in Burundi suffer food insecurity. Women are particularly vulnerable as despite their burden of agricultural responsibility, they have no rights. According to customary law, they are not allowed to own land or livestock.

Stefania Izobishitse from Nkanka hill, Muzye zone of Giharo commune is 31 years old with three children. She joined a farmers’ association after returning from Tanzania in 2007, where she fled during the war in Burundi. ‘Tugwanyinzara’, the association she is part of, means ‘Fight against hunger’.

Tugwanyinzara received improved rice seeds and fertilisers from Cord. Stefania, with other members of their association, harvested well last season on land owned by the local administration.

“Working together with others has other advantages than only harvesting. It is the best way to bring people together, share similar issues and common responses. It helps consolidate peace,” said Stefania.

Stefania’s husband works away in another province but she says, “Putting seeds in a common warehouse reinforces the feeling that we belong to a community and has helped me feel welcomed by other people who stayed in the village during the time that we fled,” she added.

“With the community warehouse, we feel well prepared for the coming agricultural season. We hope to get another good harvest the coming year,” said Stefania.

Secretary of the Rice Farmers’ Management Committee, Melchior Ntungwanayo said “Before Cord gave us this machine, we used to keep our rice in different places – anywhere we could, sometimes in people’s houses. It wasn’t always dry or secure. We used to have to take the rice 13km to a sugar factory where there’s a machine which we used to process it!”

“Also the machine can be used by the whole community. We charge a small amount and use the money to pay our workers, to buy new parts for the machine and to pay for any repairs or maintenance,” he added.

“We’ve really seen our farmers’ associations develop since this project started. With the income we make from the machine, we’ve started saving money in a bank account.”

*Oxfam International in June 2011 report Investing in agriculture in Burundi