The visit held on 18th May 2022 was also attended by representatives from Tearfund, African Evangelical Enterprise in Rwanda (AEE Rwanda) as implementers of the project and officials from Rwamagana District.
Farmers benefitting from the project revealed that working in groups and embracing land consolidation helped them to yield big and changed their livelihoods.
Agriculture is one of sectors with huge contribution to national economy. However, farmers need to shift from rudimentary to professional practices to make the sector more meaningful to Rwanda’s economy.
To achieve the goal, the Government of Rwanda continues to work with different partners to improve the sector and increase agricultural yields.
Through Rwanda’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, the European Union provided funding for a five-year project running from 20202 to promote horticulture among small scale farmers as well as Small and Medium Enterprises and increase agricultural exports.
The project is implemented in the districts of Gasabo, Bugesera, Rwamagana and Kayonza.
Two years on, beneficiaries attest transformed livelihoods owing to trainings on best practices in the farming of chili, French beans, onions, pineapple, red cabbages, straw berries, garlic and cauliflowers.
Jean Paul Ndacyayisenga, one of beneficiaries growing vegetables in Nyirabidibiri, a wetland located in the sectors of Mwulire, Nzige and Rubona expressed delight for received support that saw his livelihoods improved.
“We used to grow crops in disorder but we have been sensitized on the relevance of land consolidation. We have already witnessed its impact with regards to increasing produce. Before, a farmer would earn Rwf50, 000 per year but the income has increased to Rwf300, 000. Transformations are self-evident,” he said.
Ndacyayisenga went on to explain that income generated from harvest on a hectare has also increased from Rwf500,000 to more than Rwf1.8 million.
Donatille Mukandayisenga, another beneficiary has said that tapping into the advantage of horticulture helped her to become self-reliant that she no longer depends on her husband to cater for all household needs.
As she revealed, Mukandayisenga initially grew chili on rented garden, but her income grew that she bought own garden and is optimistic to achieve more, thanks to horticulture.
The Mayor of Rwamagana District, Radjab Mbonyumuvunyi who joined farmers to welcome guests from EU also emphasized that the project has changed farmers’ livelihoods to a great extent.
He explained that there is plan to help farmers reap big from horticulture through distribution of selected seeds, fertilizers and linking them to markets.
In the four districts of intervention, chili is grown on 189.70 hectares, French beans on 83.60 hectares, pineapple on 11.80 hectares and onions on 18.30 hectares.
The EU Commission Deputy Director-General, Myriam Ferran has told IGIHE that horticulture is among recommendable areas of investment with a good market.
She revealed that the project’s impact in just two years where beneficiaries regained hope for better life as they can meet basic household needs and support children’s education is commendable and expressed optimism for continued expansion.
The EU Ambassador to Rwanda, Nicola Bellomo disclosed that the project might be expanded to other districts in the future.
Since the beginning of the project, beneficiaries generated Rwf213,171,357 from 397,146 kilograms of chili; Rwf411,065,237 from 1,481,085 kilograms of French beans; Rwf 29,621,135 from 218,302 kgs of pineapple and Rwf 86,859,050 from 234,207 of onions.
Simeon Uwiringiye, Horticulture Project Manager at AEE Rwanda said that the smallholder farmers are still having challenges to access international market among other challenges. He also talked about climate change and dramatic increase of fuel and inputs prices mostly due to the current war in Ukraine. Uwiringiye encouraged buyers to timely assist farmers for better production and market handling.
Douwe Dijkstra, Regional Director East and Central Africa at Tearfund expressed delight for registered achievements in collaboration with the Government of Rwanda and farmers. He also reminisced on farm certification that is still an issue because the fulfillment of related requirements is a challenge for the smallholder farmers at the moment, which will be handled as the project goes on.
He explained that much emphasis in the remaining three years will be drawn on access to market, increasing produce and tackle post-harvest losses by taking advantage of cold rooms built for beneficiaries.
The visit was highly appreciated and the support from European Union much commended.