Youth set sights on $32 million agriculture development project

State Minister for Agriculture, Fulgence Nsengiyumva feeds a child with milk as United States Ambassador to Rwanda, Peter H. Vrooman, looks on with a smile in Bugesera during the project launch on Thursday. Courtesy.

Régis Umugiraneza has been processing about 200 kilogrammes of sweet potatoes into bread every day but he wants his production to increase to at least 2,000 kilogrammes.

Now, thanks to a $32 million (Rwf27 billion) agriculture development project, he might be able to achieve his dream.

The “Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze” project is a five-year USAID funded initiative which aims at benefitting over 700,000 smallholder farmers in 10 districts of Rwanda by 2022.

Umugiraneza is co-founder of Kigali-based CARL Group, a company created by four young graduates to provide agribusiness, environmental and architecture-related services.

The 28-year-old, who is also head of agro-processing cluster at Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness (RYAF), is one of the young entrepreneurs in agribusiness who have applied for financial support from the project with vision to grow their business, by tackling financial constraints, which is one of the main issues inhibiting the entrepreneurship development among young graduates.

Umugiraneza is a graduate of agribusiness and agriculture economics at University of Rwanda’s College of Agriculture, Animal Sciences and Veterinary Medicine (CAVM).

The processing equipment that he needs is estimated at $32,000 (about Rwf27 million). “The machines that I am going to order from abroad will have capacity to process about 600 kilogrammes per hour.

“One of our production targets is to make biscuits that will be supplied countrywide. I also want to make spaghetti from sweet potatoes. After partnering with the project, the business will perform very well,” said Umugiraneza.

The agri-preneur plans to work with over 800 farmers, employ 16 permanent workers in processing operations, and 20 marketing agents for his processed products. Also, under their internship programme, they want to take on 20 graduates to offer agriculture extension services to farmers.

Hinga Weze grants can range from $5,000 to $100,000, according to information from the project management.

The primary objective of the project is to sustainably increase smallholder farmers’ income, improve the nutritional status of Rwandan women and children, and increase resilience of agriculture and food systems to the ever-changing climate.

Its interventions are focused on five crop value chains, namely high-iron beans, orange flesh sweet potato (OFSP), Irish potato, maize, and horticulture produce (fruits and vegetables).

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

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