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Agroecology techniques implemented by WWF in the Virunga landscape

In the province of North Kivu, around the Virunga Park, WWF is training farmers in agroecological practices that protect the soil and increase production.

Paluku Vhosi Jean de Dieu, Agronomist Engineer, is responsible for forestry and agroforestry at WWF-DRC's Sustainable Energy Program around Virunga National Park. He has more than 20 years of professional experience in Environmental protection and conservation, reforestation forestry, agroecology / agroforestry, supervision and technical management of field staff, technical capacity building of staff and partners. He joined WWF-RDC in 2010 as a "School Tree Nurseries" Project Manager, teaching children from 13 primary schools about the importance of the forest by planting trees in their school grounds in Ruwenzori Sector. In 2012, he started working for the EcoMakala Project as an extension forester, and in 2014 he was promoted to the position of forestry manager where he is responsible for the "reforestation and agroforestry" components. He supervises a team of foresters who provide technical support to local farmers and plantation owners.

One farmer, trained in agroforestry practice, tells her story

Ms. Zawadi Ndamagene is a farmer from Rugari who benefited from WWF's support through the Awac Project (Agence walonne de l'Air et du Climat) whose main objective is to contribute to the reduction of the impact of climate variations for women and family farmers bordering the Virunga National Park while increasing their resilience.

Ms. Zawadi Ndamagene was able to develop her field (1.3 ha) in the hilly territory by installing ridges differently, and planting trees, to fight against soil erosion and to improve soil fertility. “Thanks to the support of WWF, I was able to learn how to plant fertilizer trees in my field and to join forces with the farmers of Rugari who now cultivate differently than before. I used to arrange the ridges in the direction of the slope; it caused my field to lose too much soil washed away by rainwater. I also burned the residue from my harvest. I also thought that trees are harmful to food crops. Now that I plant the trees, make the ridges perpendicular to the slope, and use my crop residues as mulch, I have found that the loss of soil through erosion has started to decrease in my field, and my crops are growing vigorously. . I hope that with these new practices, my production will start to increase and diversify to meet the diverse needs of my family", Ms. Zawadi Ndamagene testified.

Jean de Dieu Paluku Vhosi comments on these advances: "The work that Ms. Zawadi and the other farmers in her village have done, although minimal compared to the needs expressed by all the farmers, is very important. Indeed, one of the causes of deforestation and forest degradation in Virunga National Park is traditional farming practices that impoverish the land, as well as shifting cultivation within the park. By promoting agroforestry and agroecological techniques, the project contributes to both stabilizing the farmers on their land and increasing their yields by restoring soil fertility and increasing their productivity at the same time. We need more resources to ensure a scaling up of what has already been achieved in order to involve the maximum number of farmers".

So far, 2,811 ha of agricultural plots were developed using agroforestry and  agroecological practices by 3,215 farmers, including 482 women.

Madame Zawadi with the local supervisor in her field on the agro-ecological site of Rugari
Paluku Vhosi Jean de Dieu in charge of forestry and agroforestry at WWF-DRC

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