At least 20,000 smallholder farmers could see their productivity and income boosted following the adoption of farm service centre models that will scale up agricultural inputs access and business development services in rural areas.
The model is being piloted in the districts of Gatsibo, Nyabihu and Nyamagabe and will be jointly implemented by USAID and the Ministry of Agriculture.
The farm service centre model is a market-oriented, private sector model for agro-dealers and agro-input retailers with an aim of increasing delivery and access to agricultural inputs, services, information on weather and climate change patterns. This is likely to boost the productivity of smallholder farmers.
The initiative will also aim at providing expert agronomic and veterinary training and innovations to farming communities as well as access to credit.
According to Daniel Gies, the Hinga Weze Project Chief of Party, the model was introduced in order to scale up efforts in eliminating stunting in some vulnerable families.
“There is still stunting in Rwanda. We think that improving access to agro-inputs and efficient use will help address the issue of malnutrition and stunting,” he said.
Through the initiative, farmers will have access to quality and affordable agricultural inputs, service and technical assistance. This will see them get past traditional retail systems that were mainly targeting larger commercial farms and often lacked consistency in product quality and limited advisory services.
“Besides addressing the agro-input needs of farmers, the model will also serve as a platform to disseminate new techniques, technologies and practices through trainings and demonstrations,” he said.
The official said that the agro-dealers will be provided 75 per cent of capital needed to build and equip the farm service centre models.
“Besides benefitting 20,000 farmers, this initiative will also create jobs ,” he said.
At least $450,000 is being invested in the input supply network while $225,000 is serving as private sector matching investment.
The support is part of a five-year $32.6 million USAID-funded project that aims to sustainably increase smallholder farmers’ incomes, improve the nutritional status of women and children, and increase the resilience of Rwanda’s agricultural and food system to climate change.