What experts say about Rwanda’s Agriculture system
Written by: Administrator
Saturday, August 31st, 2019, 6:38
Rwanda hosted the four day 11th triennial potato conference that kicked off on August 26 bringing together experts, scientists, policy makers, researchers and government officials. The conference organised by Africa Potato Association-APA provided a tour to delegates to have hands on experience on how Rwanda is performing in terms of promotion of potatoes mainly the Orange fresh Sweet potatoes. Here are what some of the Delegates’ views about Rwanda’s Agriculture system.
Robert Mwanga- In-charge Eastern Africa-International Potato Centre based in Uganda
Mwanga, was the coordinator for the field tour of the delegates who were attending the African Potato Conference triennial conference held in Kigali in at the end of August.
On our field tour, we have seen farmers along the main road who were growing Orange fresh Potato, potatoes and other crops. These farmers were mainly women and organised in groups and were happy about what they are growing. They said at first they were not happy but after organising themselves in a cooperative, they are able to access market for their crop
Such efforts therefore targets uplift the livelihoods of people. Sweet potato is a common crop but with the processor-Sina Gerard (Enterprise Urwibutso) processing different products like biscuits from the sweet potatoes, it is adding more value to the crop. This is creating another market for farmers which add value to the crop.
Dr Han Young, Post Doctoral Research Fellow, walker Institute, University of Reading
I have learnt a lot from Rwanda, I didn’t know much about sweet potatoes, it has been interesting to learn from the whole value chain and how each participant is organised. It is also impressive to find that processors are much involved in the value chain right from Farmers. Sina Gerard- Enterprise Urwibutso works with farmers and ensures market for them through processing different products from their produce.
The value added products from Sweet Potatoes and other products provides consumers with foods rich in nutrients one needs to remain healthy.
Rwanda is also on the right track to mitigate climate change. Climate change has an impact on agriculture; it affects temperature but as well as rains, better practices in agriculture and proper land use is very important. There are a lot of efforts by farmers to breed good planting materials this summer so that they are ready for the planting season ahead.
Dr. Kirimi Sindi,Country Manager / Value Chain Expert at International Potato Centre
There is no reason why some people should be hungry or be without food. Farmers in Rwanda have successfully grown the orange fresh sweet potatoes and they are feeding their families to fight malnutrition and selling to the markets. The orange fresh sweet Potatoes which are high in Vitamin A are giving solutions to poor feeding. There is no good sight like when you go to the field and see a mum or a child eating an orange fresh Sweet potato. The crop is becoming more popular and with processors adding value to it by producing different products and this provides sustainability of the crop.
Beatrice Nyamwamu, Regulations and Compliance, Agriculture and food Authority-Kenya
What I have learnt specifically from Rwanda is the linkages, the linkages between the producers, marketers and farmers.This processor (Sina Gerard) whom we have visited is basically utilising local products, what does this mean? It means we organise our growers into production groups and link them to suppliers.
This creates an assurance to the farmer that what they are producing already has market. There are also visible efforts in terms of promoting standards right from the farmer to the final product on the market. Back home, the Authority (Agriculture and food Authority) works with farmers through department of compliance to ensure that standards are implemented through the value chain. Farmers use pesticides and spraying, so we train growers on how to grow a good crop so that the safety of the product Standard is not compromised, In Rwanda they are also ensuring this is implemented.
There is also an impressive approach in terms of land use and management and maximising production. When you map crops for specific areas you are able to intensify production therefore you maximise on the yields than growing in everything in an area where it is not growing, the crop mapping is good.
Our agriculture system is devolved to the county government from national government we create training packages and build capacities of county government who then go to farmers, and this what is done in Rwanda in an organised way where farmers work in groups and cooperatives, access inputs as well as markets.