Incomes for 200,000 smallholder farmers could increase by over 40 per cent, through improved market access for their agricultural produce, through the support from a new $29.75 million (about Rwf33 billion) project, its developers have indicated. This is one of the expected outcomes of the five-year Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Wunguke Activity. They made the observations on Wednesday, March 15, in Kigali, during the media briefing about this project launch. The project started on January 16, 2023, and it is expected it will run through 2028. Hinga Wunguke, a Kinyarwanda phrase that is loosely translated as “grow profitable” in English, utilises a market systems approach, engaging and working through existing public and private market actors and structures to facilitate inclusive, locally driven and sustainable change. It is financed at a tune of $29.75 million – with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) providing a $28 million grant, while $1.75 million will be cost share to be covered by the project recipients. So far, there is a precarious situation for the farmers whereby some grow crops without knowing who will buy their produce. This kind of agricultural practice hurts the farmers – who have invested their hard-earned money, but incur losses because they lack a ready market for their produce. And, while contract farming – an agreement between farmers and processing and/or marketing firms for the production and supply of agricultural products under forward contracts, often at predetermined prices – can help, it is violated in some cases. ALSO READ: Stunting in Rwanda drops to 33 per cent The Market Systems Director at Hinga Wunguke, Esperance Mukarugwiza, said the project wants to work with the actors in the agricultural value chains – from production at farm level to consumers for effective agricultural produce marketing, based on the market demand. “We are looking at how agricultural value chain can be effective, how agricultural produce buyers can work well with the farmers such that they are ensured of a market-driven agriculture, that their produce will have a market, and the consumers will get the product they need –in terms of both quality and quantity,” she said. She indicated this action will tackle the post-harvest losses that farmers were incurring because of market access constraints. Again, she said they want to make sure that contract farming is enforced under the enabling environment component of the project, to avoid situations where it is breached and farmers are hurt in the process. Targeted crops, and nutrition improvement The Nutrition and Market Development Director at Hinga Wunguke, Jeanne d’Arc Nyirajyambere, said that the project will not include coffee, tea and spicy crops such as chilli, rather high-value crops that generate more income to the farmer, and are rich in nutrients with a view to tackle malnutrition. Among other expected outcomes from the project, there is increased quantity and availability of key nutritious foods (meaning vegetables, fruit, pulses, meat, fish, eggs, and milk) in target markets in the Feed the Future Zone of Influence at key times throughout the year. Connected to that, it targets to have 30 per cent women of reproductive age consuming a diet of minimum diversity. According to the Rwanda Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis (CFSVA) 2021, 20.6 per cent of the population in Rwanda was food insecure, while about 32.4 per cent of under five-year children were stunted (chronically malnourished). CFSVA 2021 is a joint initiative between the National Institute of Statistics Rwanda, the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources and the United Nations World Food Programme.