Nelly Bassily | November 10, 2008
With bucket in hand, a woman waters a miniature field just beside her house. The land is a mere two metres in diameter, but, from this small space, banana trees reach towards the sun. At the top of the gently sloping field is a trench which the woman fills with organic compost.
Such miniature fields are better known as akalima k’igikoni, or kitchen gardens, in southern Rwanda. In this region, where land is scarce, people have developed ingenious methods of growing crops in small spaces.
Growing fruit and vegetables has not always been common in Rwanda. Until recently, it was not seen as profitable. But the idea of growing food in small spaces has been catching on, encouraged by a government program to promote the practice.
Benoît Nyandwi has his own take on a kitchen garden. His home in the Ruhango district of southern Rwanda is filled with vases, each sprouting a different vegetable or fruit tree – strawberries, oranges, lemons, and beets. Mr. Nyandwi explains the reasoning behind his tiny garden. If you can use a vase to grow flowers, why not grow fruit, he says. In 2006, he was able to renovate his house with his earnings from selling fruit.
Small-space crops also help to improve family nutrition by adding fruits and vegetables to staple meals. Charles Ndagijimana is a teacher in the Butare district with his own kitchen garden. He asks – “What’s the use of buying fruits and vegetables in the market if there is space going unused in your home?”
Click here to see the notes on kitchen gardens