Agnes Mukamana is a Rwandan farmer. She has been working with Send a Cow for two and a half years as part of the Jyambere project. She tragically lost her husband and children during the genocide in 1994, with one son, Oliver, surviving. She later adopted a daughter, Protais, whose parents couldn’t afford to look after her.

Agnes was desperately unhappy; “I didn’t even look ahead as far as the next day and had no future plans.” She struggled to grow anything on her land and her children's health was poor - they were living in extreme poverty.

"It was like starting from zero and rebuilding my life" 

Agnes was selected by the local community as being as being particularly vulnerable and she joined a Send a Cow group. “It was like starting from zero and rebuilding my life,” Agnes says. She started to receive training in health and hygiene, social development and agriculture.

Agnes was able to visit other Send a Cow farmers so she could see what could be achieved; “visiting other farmers helped me to open my mind and see things differently. When I saw rainwater harvesting, I implemented in on my farm.”

Coffee and Cows

Inspired by other SAC farmers, Agnes started growing lots of different fruit and vegetables on her land. Her family now eat vegetables every day and sell the surplus, which provides them with a steady income. Agnes has also taken out a loan from her group which she used to improve her farm and buy a goat and pig.

Agnes was given a cow after receiving training in animal management. Although her cow is yet to calve, she uses the manure to improve the soil which significantly improves her crops.

The manure has also had a huge impact on Agnes’ coffee harvest – she used to harvest 5-10kgs of coffee beans but now she gets 40-50kgs! She intercrops the coffee with beans to improve the soil quality and provide some shade to the coffee plants. She also applies mulch to the soil to retain moisture.

Looking to the future

Agnes is always thinking about new ways to increase and diversify her income so she can support her children through school and improve her house. Using her savings, Agnes bought a sewing machine. She makes clothes for her children and sells them to local friends.

Agnes says her confidence and self-esteem have grown and she has benefited from the gender training; “I have passed on what I have learned to my son, Oliver, so that he participates in all the jobs around the house and doesn’t think certain roles are for men or women.”

Find out more about our work in Rwanda