By Elias Hakizimana.
The government of Rwanda through the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) and Imbaraga Farmers Organization has launched a three-year project to benefit over 30,000 farmers in the country by contributing to poverty reduction and strengthening food security.
Dubbed ‘Farmers’ Voice Project’ the initiative will be implemented by Imbaraga Farmers Organization in partnership with International Alert under the European Union support of €1 Million; approximately Rwf 900 million.
Smallholder farmers in the first and second category of Ubudehe scheme will directly benefit from the project. It will also benefit farmers’ associations and cooperatives, Cooperative unions at the district level, farmers’ federation at provincial level, entrepreneurs in agriculture and livestock in private sector.
The pilot phase of its implementation will start in seven districts namely Gatsibo and Kayonza in Eastern Province, Ruhango in Southern Province, Rulindo and Burera in Northern Province, Rubavu and Rutsiro in Western Province by strengthening the voive of farmers’ organisations in agricultural policy making, planning, budgeting and monitoring and evaluation
According to Jean Paul Munyakazi, the chairman of Imbaraga Framers Organisation in Rwanda, the seven districts were chosen according to the agriculture productivity and current challenges facing farmers and policies of the districts to prevent the middlemen in selling the produce.
Munyakazi said that the main problem that farmers face is the implication of middlemen that hamper the prices of the produce and involves farmers’ loss.
“Through this network we started today, we will be able to discuss the challenges facing farmers and seek ways of tackling them in partnership with civil society organisations, farmer’s associations and the private sector, farmers are not involved in planning and budgeting of agricultural initiatives in Rwanda and their produce benefit middlemen instead of benefiting farmers, we want to establish forums where farmers will be meeting to learn more measures to protect the value of the yield,” Munyakazi noted.
He recommends MINAGRI and the Ministry of Trade to work collaboratively with farmers in order to boost the value of agricultural produce.
Also called District farmers network (DFN), the project will contribute to the reduction of poverty and strengthen food security by promoting farmer centered policies through enhanced civil society and farmers’ organisations engagement in Rwanda.
The European Union Ambassador to Rwanda Nicola Bellomo said that the project is part of the partnership between the European Union and Rwanda in promoting agriculture and development of the country.
“Agriculture is the central goal and ambitious development of this country, European Union is proud to support the process and this is the relationship with the government but also through the support of civil society organisations, we strongly believe into this collaboration between the CSOs and the government,” Bellomo noted.
Dr Charles Murekezi, Director General in charge of agriculture at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) said that the Ministry will support this initiative in line with its mandate to increase the quantity and quality of the produce that is efficient for local and international markets.
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