Over 30 government officials, including law and policy makers, leaders of cooperatives from the private agribusiness sector, NGO’s and stakeholders have attended a four-day training contract farming course at Umubano Hotel, Kigali.
Under the theme “Legal and Operational Aspects of Contract Farming Schemes”, the workshop was focused on increasing linkages between farmers and agribusiness firms and is set to address enormous challenges including lack of access to farm inputs, modern technologies, finance and markets faced by smallholder farmers who provide up to 80% of the food supply in Rwanda.
Speaking during the official launch of the course, FAO Country Representative to Rwanda, Mr. Attaher Maiga said that Rwanda is rapidly urbanizing and experiencing fast economic and population growth rates and as a result of these social and demographic trends, dietary habits are subsequently changing and so is the demand for intangible food attributes such as the ones associated with quality, diversity and supply regularity and hence the need to be responsive to these changing consumer needs.
“As a fast-growing economy, the transformations that are taking place in Rwanda, and primarily in the so-called “beyond the farm gate activities” that include logistics, wholesaling, processing and retailing may further limit the access of smallholder farmers to the modernizing agricultural and food markets,” he added.
In Rwanda, successful contract farming schemes in areas such as coffee and grain already exist but many small holder farmers do not understand the concept.
Alexandre Nshimiyimana, RYAF coordinator of Burera Avocado processing in Sanit Wing Ltd who attended the course said that signing of contracts will benefit the farmers and buyers in that it creates security since both parties agree on a fixed price.
“The buyer is also guaranteed of constant supply from the farmers which in turn are a benefit to the farmers to access loans from financial institutions to buy seeds. The course will assist us to understand formulation and interpretation of these contracts”.
Vincent Hamigyimana a potato farmer at Kirigi cooperative added.
Dr. Telesphore Ndabamenye, the head of the crop production and food security said that “Contract Farming” is one of the proven mechanisms that can be promoted to improve efficiency and smallholder farm inclusiveness in food and agriculture systems.
“Contracting schemes and buyers of farm products can ensure that they will have a regular supply of produce that meet quality requirements and are timely delivered. Farmers, on the other hand, shall benefit from having a guaranteed market for their products and, in many cases, gain access to technology, inputs, and financing.” Dr. Ndabamenye added
The initiative and joint work of FAO with UNIDROIT and IFAD towards the development of the “Legal Guide on Contract Farming”, was launched in 2015 and IFAD has generously provided FAO with a grant for a project to disseminate the key messages and principles of this Legal Guide.
This four-day workshop is an important part of this dissemination effort where participants were introduced to the dissemination approach and to the materials developed by the project team and also help FAO to validate both the dissemination methodology and the supporting materials that are a central element in it.