By Elias Hakizimana.
When Koperative Hinga Ikigori Karama (maize farmers’ cooperative) KOHIIKA in Karama sector, Nyagatare District started to grow maize, soya beans and beans in 2010, they could experience a huge loss due to poor post-harvest management.
The time grew with further strategies to try handle the situation but nothing could change due to lack of skilled personnel.
With the interventions of Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum (RYAF) through the Post-Harvest Agriculture Support Project (PASP) signed MoU based partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) SPIU/IFAD Funded Projects, Cooperative Support Officers (CSOs) were deployed countrywide in cooperatives to support agriculture productivity and market improvement within this value chain.
KOHIIKA cooperative is among the beneficiaries of this initiative and its representatives testify that a significant improvement was made so far.
Phocas Kuradusenge, president of this cooperative said that membership share was Rwf 500 since 2010 and their expectations to grow into a big cooperative was like a dream.
“The cooperative’s activities evolved tremendously after we got RYAF staff, he prepared for us a five-year strategic plan, and this helped us to prepare annual action plan, we follow its guidelines an everything goes smoothly.” Kuradusenge said.
He said that at every season to start, RYAF staff crosses to every farmers and train them on better agricultural practices to avoid any kind of loss.
“He trained 4 associations making the cooperatives about post-harvest management. This helped us to sign market agreement of 75 tons of maize yield. Before, the yield used to be damaged at around 30 percent, this loss has fallen down. We signed more than two market agreements with buyers, we managed to sell 820 tons of maize in the season 2018-B,” Kuradusenge said.
He noted that payment strategies also improved as they shifted from cash to cheque payment. The cooperative has around 97 percent of members registered in microfinance and banks Institutions.
Logistic members of KOHIIKA cooperative were trained on book keeping to get rid of input and outputs’ management and for the interest of all members.
“We are thankful to the Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum to help us boost productivity and we kindly request them to send another staff to continue training our members,” he said.
The cooperative works on 82 hectares, growing beans, soya beans and maize. They plan many activities in their five-year strategic plan including the increase of finance to be able to build a factory that will process maize flour.
Currently, KOHIIKA cooperative is a gender driven firm with a total of 47 members; 22 men and 25 women.
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