FEATURED: EUCORD and FAO join forces to supply fresh agricultural produce to Kigali and Rulindo markets | The new times

FAO has developed the project “Feeding Urbanization: Building Prosperous Small Towns”. The objective of the project is to contribute to improved livelihoods in small towns and villages through sustainable food production, value-added off-farm operations and services, and well-targeted business linkages. As part of the project, FAO has signed an agreement with the European Cooperative for Rural Development (EUCORD) to carry out a mission entitled “Strengthening the capacity of smallholder farmers in Rulindo to supply fresh agricultural products to markets in Rulindo and Kigali”.

Thus, for a period of 6 months, farmers in the project intervention areas, initially scattered, were grouped into active cooperatives and Water User Organizations, particularly in the Gacuragiza and Cyonyonyo marshes located in the district of Rulindo. Through several trainings and study tours, the capacity of farmers has been enhanced to produce high quality and quantity agricultural products in the markets of Rulindo and Kigali and, as a result, increase their incomes and improve their livelihoods. .

The achievements of the project were presented during a stakeholder workshop held in Rulindo on May 6, 2022. The objective of the workshop was to communicate, share and validate the achievements and gather ideas on the way forward for a sustainable supply of fresh agricultural products on the markets of Rulindo and Kigali.

The workshop brought together different institutions involved in the project such as FAO, EUCORD, Rulindo district authorities, Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB), local authorities, farmers’ cooperatives and water user organizations.

Phocas NZABAKURIKIZA and Janvier HABUMUREMYI the Presidents of the newly created cooperatives in the marshes of Gacuragiza and Cyonyonyo appreciated the technical support provided by EUCORD and the financial support of the FAO.

We are grateful for the technical support from EUCORD provided during our journey towards strengthening the capacity of our marsh users to produce fresh agricultural products and supply the markets of Kigali and Rulindo. We used to work individually without a serious plan, but now we have joined together as a cooperative with a clear future. We are adopting good agricultural practices, particularly for corn, beans, potatoes and vegetables, in order to meet strong market demand while increasing our income. So we are moving from subsistence agriculture to commercial agriculture. Thanks to the study visits carried out in some advanced agricultural cooperatives using the marshes of Kigali, we are convinced that we will reach a level to export our products abroad. Unfortunately our marsh is not yet developed and we still need support to develop irrigation infrastructure..”

Janvier HABUMUREMYI, President of the TERIMBERE MUHINZI Cyonyonyo Cooperative

After a capacity needs assessment conducted by EUCORD to capacity building and revitalization of farmer groups, farmers were trained on important topics such as Good agricultural practices, planning and budgeting, good governance, financial management, marketing and gender mainstreaming in agriculture. Integrated water user organizations have also been created and trained on local water management options, water harvesting and soil conservation, management of irrigation water infrastructure, conflict resolution and water user management.. Presidents of cooperatives testified that they were used to farming for home consumption, but have now moved to market-oriented agriculture using improved farming practices and high-value crop diversification. They are now considering signing agricultural contracts with exporters, especially in horticulture. However, farmers requested more coaching and mentoring from FAO and EUCORD to meet international market quality standards.

Dr Christine MUKANTWALI in her message as the focal person of the project under FAO Rwanda asked the farmers to use the knowledge and skills acquired to production and supply of varied, high quality and quantity fresh agricultural products to the markets of Rulindo and Kigali.

Emmanuel HATEGEKIMANA, the Director of Agriculture and Natural Resource Management representing the Mayor of Rulindo District recognized the full value of the EUCORD-FAO-Rulindo District partnership in the development of agriculture in the district and encouraged farmers to go beyond the extra effort and become entrepreneurial farmers.

Jean Claude MUHIRWA, the project coordinator under EUCORD appreciated the great collaboration of FAO, Rulindo districts and farmers during the implementation of the project and promised further partnership for market oriented agriculture in the district.

EUCORD is an international non-profit organization whose mission is to increase the capacity of farmers to sustainably grow quality crops that match the commercial needs of the agrifood sector and, in so doing, to increase food security, develop the private sector and improve the livelihoods of rural communities. .

EUCORD has been active in Rwanda since 2014 and has successfully implemented various projects related to agriculture and climate change adaptation and mitigation, such as improving community incomes through technology extension agricultural. (CREATE) project, UHIRA WUNGUKE project and GROWING WITH CHANGE project in drought prone areas of Eastern Province under the Rwanda Green Fund.

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Amalia H. Mercado