Empowering women farmers in Rwanda


ICYEREKEZO 20-31 TABA is a maize cooperative, based in Murambi Village in the Northern Part of Rwanda. In 2023, the cooperative established a women's council with the aims of increasing self-confidence, assuming leadership positions, and increasing the standard of living for its female members by enhancing their financial literacy. The cooperative started with 133 members, each contributing 5,000 Rwf as a share and 500 Rwf per week.

The story of Christine

Christine Nyirabanzirineza, a 41-year-old female farmer from Gisenyi in Gakenke District, grows maize and common beans on 5000 square meters (about half the area of a Manhattan city block) of land. She joined ICYEREKEZO 20-31 TABA in 2020. Before joining, she was growing mixed crops (cabbage, cassava, arrow roots) on less than 2000 square meters (about four times the area of a basketball court) of land as a subsistence farmer. She faced various challenges such as a lack of agronomical skills and an inability to produce high quality crops that meet the market demands.

Christine feeding her two cows, which were acquired due to getting good agronomical skills and a stable market of maize through the cooperative

After joining the cooperatives, her life changed. She was able to double her land, practice crop rotation of maize with beans and increase her maize yield  from 500 Kg to more than 1.5 Tonnes per season. She was able to secure a market with other cooperative members, selling their maize to African Improved Food (AIF) using the Cob Model. 
This model involves aggregating maize on the cob instead of as grain, which is then brought to an industrial facility where it is professionally shelled, cleaned, and dried within 24 hours, resulting in top-quality maize with minimal rejections from buyers.

Christine used the money from selling maize and beans to buy a dairy cow, worth more than 500,000 Rwf. Today she has three cows (a dairy cow, a bull and a calf). She has expanded her activities such as venturing into growing green bananas which she sells to the largest buyer in the region Nyirangarama. 

The cooperative sharing their progress with Agriterra Cooperative Advisors

In December 2023, Christine contested for the position of Vice President of the cooperative. Through her dedication to the development of women and being an advocate of women and youth in the cooperative, she won the election for this position.

“Working with Agriterra has helped me to boost my confidence as a leader due to training in female leadership and advocacy. This has enabled me to be the voice of other women and to assist the leaders of cooperative in improving the standard of living of our members, particularly within the women’s council. In the future, we plan to diversify our business such as compost production, selling agriculture inputs and investing in high value crops such as pineapple,” said Christine. 

Christine showcasing how she is going to sell her maize under the Cob Model

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