Agriculture insurance scheme, a milestone for the sector in 2019

Tomatoes in green house at Center of Excellence for Horticultural Development at Murindi in Gasabo District. Courtesy.

Actors in agriculture and livestock sector contend that the National Agriculture Insurance Scheme, launched in April this year in Nyanza district, is one of the major milestones that the sector has ever had.

This plan which intends to cushion farmers against losses caused by disease and accidents is a joint initiative between government and private sector.

It is also primed to enable farmers to easily access financial services and ensure flow of credit to the agriculture sector as it will de-risk this sector which financial institutions have been reluctant to fund.

Under this scheme, farmers pay 60 per cent of the insurance premium, while the government covers the remaining 40 per cent in subsidy.

For livestock, the insurance premiums covered represent 4.5 per cent of the total value of the insured farm animal per year, but the farmer gets the total amount of money that their livestock is worth in case of disease or accident induced death.

Uzziel Ndagijimana, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning said that 200 farmers, and 5,200 livestock breeders took insurance on their crops and livestock respectively, as at September this year.

In the current financial year – which will come to an end on June 30, 2020 –  agriculture and livestock insurance project was allocated Rwf370 million with a target to insure maize plantations on 7,968 hectares and rice on 937.5 hectares, as well as more than 21,400 cows, sow information from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal resources.

The technology-based insurance scheme uses an ear-mark with a microchip inserted in the ear of the cow through which the insurance firm is able to track the cow.

Other major events that took place in the sector include the construction of a fertiliser blending factory, launch of horticulture centre of excellence, and a major chilli export deal landed by a Rwandan.

There was also the launch of a new agriculture institute, and the exclusive right granted to Rwanda coffee and tea for them to be consumed at Saint-Germain (PSG)’s Stadium in France.

Rwandan farmer gets $500 million chilli deal with Chinese firm

Rwandan young agribusiness entrepreneur, Dieudonné Twahirwa, landed a deal to supply 50,000 tonnes of dry chilli worth $100 million (about Rwf90 billion) every year to China, a move expected to significantly boost Rwanda’s agricultural exports.

The five-year agreement was signed on September 13, 2019, at the Rwandan Embassy in Beijing between Twahirwa and the Chinese GK International Enterprises, a trading company dealing with import and export of different items, including food items, solar coating, among others.

The development means that chilli worth $500 million will be exported to China in the next five years.

The chilli deal is set to fetch more revenue than any other crop for Rwanda such as tea, or coffee, the two major export crops for Rwanda.

Also known as Diego, Twahirwa is the Managing Director of Gashora Farm, which specialises in chilli exports.

Speaking to The New Times shortly after the signing of the deal, Twahirwa said that effective partnership between farmers and the government will ensure that the deal becomes a success and benefits all parties involved.

A $38 million fertiliser blending plant

The year 2019 also saw the construction works begin for a $38 million (about Rwf33 billion) factory with capacity to blend 100,000 tonnes of fertilisers per year which is being set up in Bugesera District.

The fertiliser blending will be based on the type of soil and the nutrient needs of each crop to be grown in a particular region.

This development will effectively respond to the issue of using similar fertiliser formulation for different types of soil and regions, which farmers said was adversely affecting farm productivity.

Rwanda’s annual demand for fertilisers stands at 53,000 tonnes.

The factory is also expected to reduce the price that farmers pay for fertilisers, which is needed to drive the growth of agriculture — one of the most important sectors of the Rwandan economy.  

The project is a joint venture involving Morocco’s OCP Group – one of the leading exporters of phosphate fertilisers in the world, the Government of Rwanda and a local firm — Agro Processing Trust Corporation (APTC).

Rwanda’s coffee, tea to be exclusively served at PSG stadium: Here are implications

The fans of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) will be given the opportunity to savour award-winning Rwandan tea and coffee that will be served exclusively at the Parc des Princes starting next season.

Parc des Princes is the iconic stadium of PSG, one of the top European football clubs. With a seating capacity of more than 47,000 spectators, the stadium hosts matches of the ‘Championnat de France’ when PSG plays at home, European Cup matches, and from time to time, concerts by top French and international artists.

The move is part of a newly announced partnership between Rwanda and PSG. The development comes amid fall in tea and coffee prices at international markets.

Cynthia Uwacu, from the Export Market Development department at National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) said the deal presents huge opportunities’

 “We’re ready to serve our premium Rwandan coffee & tea to the over 47,000 PSG fans at their home stadium, and beyond,” she observed.

Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA)

2019 also saw the inauguration of a new agriculture institute - Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA) which aims to produce future sector leaders, and drive up entrepreneurship and innovation, which are critically needed to increase productivity.

Opened on September 16, with a cohort of 80 students, Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA), offers a 3-year Bachelor of Science degree in Conservation Agriculture, blending classroom learning with hands-on education.

Located in Bugesera District, the college is part of multimillion-dollar agriculture initiatives in the country that are being funded by American philanthropist, Howard G. Buffett.

Broadly, its aim is to enable smallholder farmers to produce healthy, abundant, low-cost food in sustainable ways in addition to developing profitable businesses.

Rwanda, Israel unveil Horticulture Centre of Excellence

Still in this year, Rwanda and Israel launched Center of Excellence for Horticultural Development with ambitions to increase production through modern technology and research.

The Mulindi-based centre, in Gasabo District will serve both commercial and smallholder horticulture farmers.

The seed funding for the project alone is valued at $2 million, Amb. Gil Haskel, the Deputy Director General at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said during the launch of the centre in April this year. 

Billed as MASHAV’s biggest sponsored project in Africa, the initiative is expected to deploy modern technology and improve the wellbeing of farmers through transfer of knowledge—capacity building and demonstration—and agro-inputs such as nurseries for better seedlings and varieties as we as fresh produce. 

MASHAV is a Hebrew acronym for Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation.

Rwanda targets 46,314 tonnes of horticulture output and an annual export revenue of $130 million by 2024, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources.

The horticulture industry has been growing steadily. For instance, the Minister said, in 2015 Rwanda generated $5 million form horticulture exports before the figure sharply increased to $27 million in 2018/2019.

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