Africa We Want

RWANDA LAUNCHES $62.89 MILLION PROJECT TO BOOST SMALLHOLDERS’ AGRI-EXPORTS

Rwanda through its National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) and partners has launched a $62.89 million project to boost smallholder farmers’ agriculture exports. By Zablon Oyugi

The project dubbed Promoting Smallholder Agro-Export Competitiveness (PSAC) is aimed at addressing key challenges faced by growers involved in developing agriculture export value chains of coffee, tea, and horticulture crops in the country and enhance their competitiveness on target markets.

Supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and various partners including Cordaid, the government of Spain, and Heifer International, among others, this initiative aims to benefit 56,695 households, comprising approximately 255,128 individuals.

According to Eric Kabayiza, the coordinator of the project’s implementation unit at NAEB, the project also focuses on gender-transformative changes.

“It is anticipated that at least 40 per cent of the beneficiaries will be women, with 20 per cent representing female-headed households,” said Kabayiza.

Additionally, the project targets youth by ensuring access to wage employment and fostering leadership development within the specified value chains, with a minimum of 30 per cent of beneficiaries being youth.

Project scope

PSAC will cover 14 districts across Rwanda, spanning Rutsiro, Nyamasheke, Nyabihu, Rusizi and Karongi in the Western Province; Nyaruguru, Nyamagabe, Huye, Nyanza and Ruhango in the Southern Province; Rwamagana and Bugesera in the Eastern Province and Musanze and Rulindo in the Northern Province.

Running until 2028, the initiative aims to bolster Rwanda’s efforts to enhance the livelihoods of rural communities by fostering inclusive and sustainable agri-export value chains. It focuses on expanding the capacity of farmers to engage in climate-resilient agriculture practices while facilitating market access.

Out of the entire project budget, $37.72 million will be allocated to improve the climate-smart production and productivity of specific export-oriented value chains, according to Kabayiza.

“This funding will be directed towards initiatives like bolstering production and productivity for smallholder farmers. The project intends to enlarge and restore plantation areas spanning 8,242 hectares dedicated to coffee, tea, and horticulture. This will involve the adoption of innovative climate-resilient technologies and practices.”

He added that that this encompasses 1,700 hectares dedicated to horticulture (macadamia, avocado, mango, essential oil, and other crops), 2,410 hectares for tea cultivation, and 4,132 hectares for coffee production.

Coffee and tea

In addition to the aforementioned support, assistance for coffee includes the establishment of hangars for cherry collection, the implementation of eco-friendly drying technologies and facilities, as well as the provision of effluent and solid waste management systems at the cooperative level, along with coffee washing stations.

“We crafted this project with a focus on addressing export-related challenges, with particular emphasis on assisting subsistence farmers and vulnerable, market-oriented producers,” said Kabayiza adding that the project will incorporate supplementary measures to facilitate the involvement of its target demographics in inclusive commercial value chains.

This includes supporting off-taker processors, exporters, and rural SMEs that procure products from smallholder farmers.

In welcoming the move, Jean Nepo Nkurikiyinka, the Chairperson of the Federation of Rwanda Tea Growing Cooperatives (FERWACOTHE) said PSAC will also boost tea farmers’ income and competitiveness.

Horticulture

Horticultural crops are susceptible to fluctuations in weather conditions, and the project has the potential to shield farmers from resulting losses, said Devotha Mukaserire, the Chairperson of Rwanda Federation of Horticulture Cooperatives.

“Horticulture suffers from weather extremes leading to post-harvest losses. Immediate markets, training, resilient seeds, transport solutions, and sustainable export contracts are crucial,” she said adding that the project can address these needs, ensuring market sustainability.

Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Ildephonse Musafiri, emphasized the significant role district authorities and other partners must play for the successful implementation of the project.

Rwanda is optimistic about reaching its goal to generate $1 billion (approximately Rwf1.2 trillion) from agricultural exports in the fiscal year 2023/2024, based on the previous fiscal year’s performance, as reported by NAEB.

According to NAEB’s June 2023 statistics report, Rwanda’s agricultural export revenues surpassed $857 million (about Rwf1 trillion) in the fiscal year 2022-2023, marking a significant increase of 33.74% from the previous year’s figure of over $640.9 million in 2021-2022.

Author: MANZI
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