Government to set up fund to incentivise model farmers

Over14,000 model farmers who advise  fellow farmers on best agricultural practices will soon start receiving different incentives  thanks to a “Farmer Promoters’ Fund”.

Farmer promoters are model farmers whose agricultural yields are comparatively higher owing to improved agricultural practices.

It is such farmers that the Government is seeking to work with to extend best practices and skills to other farmers to improve yields.

The fund has been launched to motivate them to train fellow farmers as they have been doing this as volunteers without any incentives.

 According to Dr Charles Bucagu, the Deputy Director General in charge of Agriculture Research and Technology Transfer at Rwanda Agricultural Board, the initial investment in the fund is estimated around Rwf100 million per year and will be sourced from revenue on every kilogramme of seeds and fertilisers sold by agro-dealers.

“When an agro-dealer sells fertilisers to a farmer, they gain Rwf40 per kg, Rwf2 of this money will be going to the fund to support farmer promoters to improve their welfare. If we consider amount of every inputs we distribute per year, this money to the fund amounts to over Rwf100 million per year. But because it is still not enough, we are going to gradually mobilise more funds from government budget and from different partners in agriculture sector so that the funds keep increasing,” he said.

 “We are going to create cooperatives of farmer promoters in all 416 sectors so that when they get such funds, they can even start income generating projects together, and carry out credit and savings services within the cooperatives,” he said.

 The investment is initially the joint initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture, Agro-processing Trust Corporation Company Ltd of reserve forces that distribute fertilisers and seeds to agro-dealers in the country, as well as USAID’s project ‘Hinga Weze’

 According to Maj. Canisius Kayitera, a Business Development Officer at Agroprocessing Trust Corporation Company Ltd (APTC), there are over 820 agro-dealers and 14,099 eligible farmer promoters across the country.

“At least 45,000 tonnes of fertilisers and 4,350 tonnes were distributed last year to farmers. If Rwf2 is deducted from each kilogramme, we can raise over Rwf98 million. This is small amount considering the number of agro-dealers who need the support and that is why we will seek additional partners to inject funds,” he said.

 However, agro-dealers will receive such incentives depending on their activity, performance and impact in boosting the performance of fellow farmers.

Egide Gatari, the Agricultural Subsidies Programme Manager at Rwanda Agricultural Board, said that considering that government allocates Rwf2 billion per year for agricultural extension services, and part of this money could also go into the farmer promoters’ fund.

“We need their cooperatives at sector level and their forum at district level so that whoever seeks to support them gets proper channel of funding them. Government, stakeholders, seeds and fertilisers companies and others can commit how much they want to add to the fund considering that it already has Rwf100 million,” he said.

Beneficiaries speak out

Etienne Gashumba, the farmer promoter from Kayonza District, said:“ this Rwf2 deducted from every kilogramme of sold agro-inputs should be collected together at the national level and to help us start projects such as poultry rearing, maize processing, and many others related to agriculture sector.”

Philemon Nkundimana, another farmer promoter from Karongi District, added: “we have to form cooperatives at the sector level so that we start meaningful income generating activities.”

Madeleine Ayinkamiye, an agro-dealer in Rwamagana District, said they are ready to pay Rwf2 of every kilogramme of inputs sold, noting that there ought to be better management of the fund to avoid failure.