Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya are set to add value to their agricultural produce as well as reduce losses on perishable commodities following a $2 billion investment in cold storage facilities.
The investment by UPL Limited, an Indian based firm, in partnership with Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), aims at creating innovative supply chains and energy efficient cold storage systems.
The initiative’s inception is informed by post-harvest losses, estimated at more than 40 per cent of potatoes, fruits, vegetables which agriculture experts say constitute a major impediment to the development and transformation of the agriculture sector.
Dr Agnes Kalibata, president of AGRA, told The New Times on Wednesday that the drive will allow farmers to have greater flexibility in what they grow and when they decide to bring their produce to the market, leading to more negotiating power for the farmers, and ultimately greater incomes.
“Most importantly, the initiative aims to substantially bring down post-harvest losses of perishables,” Dr Kalibata said after signing the deal.
For Rwanda, the initiative will be made possible through consolidation and aggregation of small holder farmers to increase value of volumes.
The Minster for Agriculture, Geraldine Mukeshimana, said the ongoing aggregation programmes would make it possible for Rwanda to benefit from the new effort.
She said the biggest beneficiaries would be small holder farmers seeking to access markets at competitive prices all year long.
She added that such projects had previously been held back by energy challenges across the continent but this had since been addressed with the energy generation projects that started in recent years.
Mukeshimana noted that the storage plants would also give room for value addition to agricultural products from the region, thus increasing returns.
The investment is also expected to reduce imports of processed agricultural products which has contributed to the region’s high import bill.
Jai Shroff, the chief executive of UPL Limited, said, with the launch of the initiative, farmers across the region would be encouraged to be more actively engaged in commercial farming practices.