One of the keys to achieving food security in Africa is ensuring its millions of smallholder farmers are able to produce enough food for their families plus a surplus to sell in local markets.
To get a better idea of the challenge facing a typical African farm family, we’ve identified one through Farm Radio International, a Canadian organization that delivers information to farmers through 320 radio station partners in sub-Saharan Africa. We’re keeping track of her farm activities through the year.
The articles are written by Jean Paul Ntezimana, who works with Radio Salus, a station which reaches 90 per cent of Rwanda. Currently, he co-ordinates a radio program for farmers about land conflicts with Search for Common Ground in Rwanda, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that aims to help communities deal with conflicts in a constructive way. If you have questions or comments for our African farm family, you can provide them in the Post A Comment section at the end of this article.
She talks slowly with a low voice and does not move quickly as usual. However, she is not sick. She has just given birth to a baby boy, her third son.
Last Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 28) Justine Uwingabire gave birth to a baby boy in Kigali City. Niyonzima Evariste, her husband, smiles every time he picks up a phone call. He talks as he moves around in the hospital, changing phone sets to pick a new call.
He is answering phone calls from his friends and he answers calls from his wife’s phone because she is too tired to talk.
“She is now unable to talk on phone because she has just given birth to a baby boy,” says Evariste, smiling.
Supported by Imbaraga Farmers’ Union, Justine delivered her third son in Hopital La Croix du Sud in Kigali, two hours’ drive from Kiramuruzi where she lives.
“This is where we can find specialists,” Justine says to two women around her bed. I am lucky, I have given birth without complications,” she says. “I think after only one day I will go home.”
Friday afternoon, a car from Imabaraga Farmers’ Union picks up Justine to take her and her new child home.
Following Rwandan customs, Justine moves from her regular bedroom to another room where neighbours can meet her to say hello to “the newcomer.”
There is a steady stream of women coming and going, some accompanied by children. Some women wash clothes, others are working in the kitchen, while others sit with Justine in her new room sharing juice and other soft drinks. People move in and out of the house. Men sit with Evariste, drinking some soft drinks.
One of her sons, Niyotwagira Prince, has come home to look at “a small white boy.” He can look at the baby and wants to touch. He asks many questions to his mum.
According to Rwandan culture, after eight days the newborn will be given his name. Neighbours will come and meet at Justine’s home in the evening. Many of them will be children of the village.
Justine will offer food and drinks. Everyone will have to give a name to the newborn. After, his father Evariste will give him a name which will be the official name of the child.
Farming activities slow down
Justine has suspended activities on the farm because of her pregnancy, and will not return to work for a while. She has had some others help plant her beans.
“I have sent some people to work on farm for me,” she says. “I know they will do as they understand, I have no choice,” she added.
“I will wait for the next season. Now I cannot work. Children need care, immunization, et cetera. I will care for my child and reduce very much my activities on farm.”
Now, Justine has three sons. However, for now she does not want to say whether she would also like daughters.
Also in this series:
Following a farm family in sub-Saharan Africa, April 29, 2011
Our farmer visits France, Aug. 17, 2011
This year’s sorghum harvest is disappointing, Aug. 17, 2011