FARMERS are hopeful to generate additional income following the launch of a new eight-year project expected to turn cassava, banana, soya and vegetable waste into organic fertilizers, animal feeds, briquettes among other useful products.
Apart from boosting agriculture productivity and agribusiness, researchers said business and jobs will be created for waste collectors and those who can process them into secondary products.
This project which started Kamonyi district is financed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in partnership with ETH Zurish, a Swiss University and will look at both rural and urban wastes.
While rural areas are best for production of food, the urban areas have higher consumption and also generate a large amount of wastes.
“We shall be looking at establishing circular economies, whereby the waste from cassava and vegetables production systems can be recycled and used back into the farms to increase productivity. It will increase the use of organic fertilizers as well as the nutrient capacity of the soils in Rwanda.” said Dr Haruna Sekabira, the project leader.
Phase one of the project will be implemented between 2019 and 2023 in Rwanda, Ethiopia, DRC, and South Africa at a cost of approximately Rwf4 billion about Rwf1 billion to be spent in Rwanda.
The project will work closely with actors involved in urban and peri-urban waste management.
Jean Claude Umwizerwa, the leader of Rwanda Cassava Value Chain Platform welcomed the project saying that it will increase the value of products considered useless in agriculture.
“This initiative is going to add value to our cassava. It is very beneficial, as we will not lose anything in the whole production process of our cassava including cassava peels, wastewater from cassava washing stations. All these will be recycled and come back in our field as compost or as livestock feed.” He said.
He said that cassava peels make 20 percent of harvested cassava tubers meaning that when they reject peels as waste they lose a lot.
“We hope that all cassava peels that have been getting rejected are now going to generate further income for us. There are also technologies to turn agriculture waste into briquettes,” he said.
Speciose Kantengwa, one of the researchers said that they will work with waste collectors to get raw materials.
“Apart from cassava peels, research shows peels from beans, soya as organic fertilizers return 30 percent of Nitrogen into the soil. Farmers will keep suggesting what they need. ,” she said.
The Vice Mayor of Economic Affairs in Kamonyi District, Thadée Tuyizere, said that the project is in line with the district’s vision.
“As the motto of the project, our district also envisions a green, clean and secure district. This project is beneficial as it will not only help our people to get rid of waste in their households but also benefit them as organic fertilizer in partnership with other partners turning waste into revenues,” he said.