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Farmers work together to beat drought

Monday, December 08, 2014 - 01:27

Farming in Rwanda is undergoing an overhaul to combat the effects of climate change. Currently up to 40 percent of harvests are lost due to erratic weather - and as Katie Gregory reports - if these losses are allowed to go on, it could end up costing the industry up to 300 million dollars a year.

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Three weeks and still no rain... The soil is dry and the crop yields in Rwanda are suffering. (SOUNDBITE) (Kinyarwanda) ODETTE MUKANKIKO, VICE PRESIDENT OF MAIZE COOPERATIVE, SAYING: "Because of climate change our yields are lower, and even when it rains the maize doesn't grow well." Traditional methods of harvesting are no longer working. So now farmers are working together... to turn their fortunes around. New co-operatives are building storage and processing facilities to better cultivate crops and ensure the majority of the harvest can be sold on to markets. (SOUNDBITE) (Kinyarwanda) ODETTE MUKANKIKO, VICE PRESIDENT OF MAIZE COOPERATIVE. SAYING: "Through maize growing and having access to markets, I started to get more income and I could afford to get the iron sheets to build this house I'm living in." The lack of rain and high temperatures are also having an impact on dairy farmers... (SOUNDBITE) (Kinyarwanda) ALFRED NSENGIMANA, MILK FARMER, SAYING: "When it rains and we have fodder we get about 13 litres of milk a day. But we get much less when we have long dry spells." But new co-operatives are assisting them as well. Refrigerated collection centres mean farmers can store their produce - and know it will remain fresh. These schemes along with business training have been provided by the International Fund for Agricultural development in partnership with the country's government. Over five years - the system will help over 155-thousand farmers tackling the changing environmental and economic climate.

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Farmers work together to beat drought

Monday, December 08, 2014 - 01:27