Brochettes, water buckets and family time
A commercial agricultural ecosystem delivers peace of mind
This past year, we added SDG 16 as the 10th goal to which we contribute. This specific SDG which speaks about peace, justice, and strong institutions, to me signifies the outcome of many of the things we do.
Let’s focus on Rwanda where we partnered with the local government to launch the Gabiro Agribusiness Hub Project (GAHP), a commercial agricultural ecosystem spread over 15,600 hectares of arable land. To drive economic growth, private investors leased 70% of the land this boosted agriculture, jobs, and exports. The other 30% was maintained by the local community for farming. With our drip irrigation infrastructure, land utilization will increase, while water usage will decrease by 40%.
The GAHP project delivers a range of holistic benefits; a new major source of income from agriculture, educational opportunities, job diversification, reduced unemployment, better housing, access to credit. The list goes on and on and contributes to several of the SDGs - zero hunger, elimination of poverty, decent work, and economic growth.
It is also aligned with the goals of SDG 16. How come? It's pretty simple. When people have the basics covered; when they are guaranteed food, shelter, job security, education - they tend to feel more secure and experience peace of mind in their daily life. Content people make good citizens who are a lot less likely to feel anxious or act violently, they are more likely to steer away from conflicts or uprisings.
Rwanda is only one place on the African continent where we’re able to impact people's lives with precision irrigation solutions. Women, throughout Africa, account for nearly 50% of the agricultural workforce. Their job, day in and day out is to carry brimming buckets of water from the rivers or wells to the fields. They spend hours walking this long route, back and forth, and yet they’re still responsible for all things domestic: cleaning, cooking, and raising the children. Once these women have access to water, through smart irrigation solutions, it simply transforms their lives. (and yes, there’s SDG 5 which is all about that; Gender Equality). A young mother of five in a drought-driven village once told me: “Ever since we got drip irrigation in our village I have more time to spend with my children.” Years later, this simple truth still brings me to tears.