Diary farmers to get USAID grant
DIARY farmers will benefit from a United States Agency for International Development grant to improve their incomes and expand markets at both regional and domestic levels.
The grant, which will be channelled through Rwanda Dairy Competitiveness Programme II (RDCP II) is in four categories. These include business innovation, competitive service subcontracts, institutional capacity building and competitiveness investment fund.
“We finance the whole value chain. Our objective is to improve the quality of milk right from the farmer, collection centres and processors,” said Lillian Gasana, the sub-awards manager at Land O’ Lakes.
Land O’ Lakes is a USAID-funded project with the ultimate goal of improving quality, increasing production and raising incomes to farmers involved in the diary sector.
They intend to monitor hygiene, equipment used, handling, packing, and transportation to ensure that milk is not contaminated and the processor is handled by the right personnel.
Gasana said they are in touch with Rwanda Bureau of Standards to authorise milk collection centres or processors to provide a seal on quality milk.
One grant focuses on building the capacity of public or private institutions directly involved in the local dairy sector as well as dairy associations.
Gasana said they mainly build institutional capacity to develop business plans and financial management.
The project does not finance individuals but the fund is channelled through cooperatives and associations. The five year project sponsors 100 per cent of the business proposals but the beneficiary must demonstrate capacity to implement the project by at least 20 per cent .
The project finance will range from $10,000 to $70,000 but any proposal exceeding $70,000 can be submitted and will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
“This is the second phase of the project but unique, different scope, budget and coverage because the project is financially sponsoring farmers,” she said.
Traditionally, the project could only buy equipment to institutions by avoiding to directly offer them money to procure anything or run their daily businesses.
Farmers will also benefit from study tours across the country and share experiences with their counterparts in similar business.
The project will also enhance research on disease treatment and policy reforms as well as bring new services and technology to address specific business growth and development needs and opportunities in the sector.
The project will benefit farmers in 17 districts including Gasabo and Kicukiro in Kigali City; Bugesera, Gatsibo, Kayonza, Nyagatare and Rwamagana in Eastern Province; Gicumbi, Musanze and Rulindo in Northern Province; Nyabihu and Rubavu in Western Province and Gisagara, Huye, Kamonyi, Nyanza and Ruhango in Southern Province.
According to Theogene Rutagwenda, the Director General of Animal Resources in the Ministry of Agriculture, the sector faces challenges which can be transformed into opportunities.
“Investing in collection centres and processing is crucial because processing only is not enough and Land O’ Lakes came in to supplement the master plan,” Rutagwenda said.
He said investors are hesitant to invest in the diary sector with the belief that milk production is insufficient, yet there is a lot of uncollected milk in the countryside.
The Rwanda Dairy Competitiveness Programme II (RDCP II) is designed to reduce poverty through expanded marketing of quality milk that generates income and employment, and improvement of nutrition among rural communities.