Emmanue Bashimyiki, a cassava farmer from Ruhango District has said that lack of sustainable market for cassava harvest and diversification of products made from cassava has been adversely affecting the way they generate income. He said that the only available cassava processing plant in the area doesn’t buy all farmers’ produce the situation which reduces the income levels. “We face post-harvest losses when the whole produce is not bought. The prices are also unfair as one Kilogramme goes for Rwf85,” he said. He said that currently the factory only buys eight tonnes from farmers per week yet the produce is more than that adding that selling at giveaway prices triggers huge losses. “The cassava remains on the farms for a long time due to lack of market. In this case if we do not harvest them it is also difficult to secure land to till for the next season. Now we want to plant beans but the land is not yet secured as cassava has not yet been harvested on all pieces of land. This translates into losses,” he said. Bashimyiki who is member of Ruhango Cassava Farmers’ cooperative said that they need standard drying facilities and other technologies for cassava which can help in preserving the harvest while waiting for buyers. “I myself harvest over 200 tonnes in every one and a half years. Currently I have grown cassava on five hectares. The average production is 20 tonnes per hectare but we are embracing a new technique where a farmer can harvest about 50 tonnes per hectare,” he said. Nyanza based farmer who is growing new disease-resistant cassava varieties on 20 hectares where he harvests between 30 tonnes and 40 tonnes per hectare. “We need any innovation that can make other products such as bakery products and many others from cassava and this could enable us to get a sustainable market for our harvest and increase our revenues,” he said. The cassava crop is one of the crops that have been prioritized under a €2m project to create innovations aimed at transforming the agriculture sector from 2021 to 2025. The innovation could benefit in nine value chains namely Potatoes, Diary, rice, maize, beans, horticulture, agroforestry, cassava and Small Livestock. According to Jean Claude Musabyimana, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, the project was funded by European Union and will be implemented in partnership UN with Food and Agriculture Organization , Ecole supérieure d’agro-développement international (ISTOM and others in the Districts of Burera, Rutsiro, Gatsibo, Nyagatare, Bugesera, and Ruhango. “Every District will be supported on a priority crop in which farmers need solutions to problems they are facing. One example is Ruhango District with its cassava crop. Eastern Province has issues related to drought which means they need water among others,” he said. The new project is set to promote climate-relevant and sustainable transformation of agricultural systems in Rwanda. “The project will build capacities to create innovations to address issues that are experienced in the crop value chain and livestock value chain. We will work with researchers from the University of Rwanda and others in creating the innovations that bring solutions in the agriculture sector,” he said, adding that to end food insecurity, there is a need for agricultural transformation. Alfred Bizoza, a lecturer at University of Rwanda and Research in Agriculture and Animal Resources said that gaps have been identified in every district so as to also identify innovations that are needed. “The innovation is needed in the value of a crop starting from quality seeds, a sustainable market for harvest and others. For instance, cassava crop has been facing post-harvest losses and now farmers are looking to innovation and technologies that could help increase the farmers revenues,” he said. Areas of focus The project will focus on three areas namely diversification of livestock and crop systems, effective management of irrigated areas, and crop intensification and diversification in drought prone areas. FAO Country Representative in Rwanda, Gualbert Gbehounou said that the project will help in achieving Agricultural innovation and climate-smart agriculture. “This enhances the preventive capacity, adaptive capacity, and anticipative capacity of Rwandan farmers for sustainable thriving Agrifood systems, in a country of a thousand hills,” he said. He said the overall goal of the project is to strengthen agricultural innovation partnerships, dissemination of best practices and processes that support climate-relevant and sustainable transformation of agriculture systems in Rwanda. According to the 2020-21 annual report of the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, agriculture is the main economic activity in Rwanda with 70 percent of the population engaged in the sector, and around 66 percent of the working population employed in agriculture. The agricultural sector accounts for 26 per cent of the national GDP. Rwanda’s GDP has been growing at the rate of 7 per cent since 2014. Tea and coffee are the major exports while plantains, cassava, potatoes, sweet potatoes, maize, and beans are the most productive and staple crops. Rwanda exports dry beans, potatoes, maize, rice, cassava flour, maize flour, poultry, and live animals within Eastern Africa.