In 2009 we launched the Py Lifeline Project in support of pyrethrum farmers on the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Pyrethrum is a botanical source of pesticide with current global demand nearly 3 times that of the world’s supply.
The Py Lifeline Project was the first global project to incorporate Lifeline Energy’s new Lifeplayer technology, which combines an AM/ FM/SW radio with an Mp3 player, a cell phone charger and a built-in microphone capable of creating instant podcasts. Our Imbere Heza broadcasts, carried on three different radio stations, reach an estimated 20,000 pyrethrum farmers and their families. Each cooperative office is equipped with a digital listening station, where new members can quickly become acquainted with current agronomy practices that can help to boost both yields and quality.
Although farmers in northern Rwanda have grown pyrethrum for decades, the industry’s potential has remained nearly dormant for most of the past 25 years. As a result of the 1994 genocide and ensuing insurgency movement, many farmers were displaced, their fields left untended, while most of their contractual agreements were breached.
In the years that followed, pyrethrum became a forgotten crop, lacking in government or industry incentives and eventually much of the land was converted to food production. While there have been some attempts at revitalization in recent years, most of these efforts have been directed toward improving the infrastructure of processing facilities at the expense of more focused development initiatives within the farming sector.
The Py Lifeline Project is part of the Rwanda Pyrethrum Project, a collaborative effort involving government agencies, research institutions and private industry, working together to bring greater prosperity and sustainability to Rwanda’s pyrethrum farming sector.