Agriterra, a Dutch non-government organisation, has opened office in Rwanda in a bid to support the country’s efforts to improve the livelihoods of local farmers in cooperatives who are engaged in dairy farming, Irish potatoes, maize, and sugarcane among others .
Under its operation the International NGO seeks to ensure that ambitious farmer cooperatives are strengthened in governance, financial management and business development as this helps them to become professional, easily access market for their produce and stimulates rural industralisation.
Agriterra was founded in 1997 by Dutch farmer organisations in the Netherlands but is currently working with farmers from different continents, including Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa.
Speaking, Tuesday, at the official launch of the organisation, the Agriterra Manager in charge of Agri-advice Mr. Cees Van Rij underscored the importance of supporting farmers grouped in cooperatives.
Agriterra's Manager in charge of agri advice Cees Van Rij speaking to the media at the launch of the body in Rwanda on 18th June 2019.
He says that once farmers are in cooperatives, it is not only easy for them to access market for their produce, but it also raises their ability to borrow money from the cooperatives themselves or banks.
Cees Van Rij also noted that one of the reasons Agriterra decided to launch operations in Rwanda is because the country shares a lot in common with the Kingdom of the Netherlands where the organisation has its roots.
‘’Netherlands is a country that is known for growing a lot of Irish and Horticulture (fruits and vegetables) as well as engaging in dairy farming, which is not any different from here, so when we noticed that farmers here face the same challenges we had faced back home, we decided to come help out and we hope to do a tremendous work here,’’ he said.
Carrot farmer member of Tuzamurane Cyeza cooperative in Muhanga, happy for good harvest thanks to Agriterra support.
The event was also attended by the Dutch Ambassador to Rwanda Her Excellency Frederique de Man who thanked Agriterra for having finally opened its doors in the country and promised to keep working closely with the organisation as all its efforts were for the benefit of the Rwandan farmers and the country at large.
‘’I want to thank Agriterra for having decided to open its doors in the country after having worked previously under various bodies and done such a commendable job. It is my pleasure to inform all of you that Agriterra is here and here to stay,’’ she said.
Jasper Spikker, who is also Agriterra’s country representative expressed his delight at the coming of age of the organisation having worked with various entities in the country but has now become independent.
He noted that the organisation is going to strengthen farmer cooperatives through advice, trainings and exchange visits where farmers will acquire skills leading them to become truly business enterprises. Such skills would also include good agricultural practices and access to quality seeds as failure to acquire quality seeds has made farmers get poor yields.
‘’We are working on ensuring that there is easy access of quality seeds for the farmers to plant as planting good seeds automatically provides good yields and that is what we want to see these farmers getting,’’ he said.
Agripool expert from the Netherlands sharing best Agricultural Practices
gripool expert from the Netherlands sharing best Agricultural Practices
At the event, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) Sandrine Urugeni who represented the Ministry of Agriculture noted that she was optimistic that the launch of Agriterra is going to greatly help local farmers.
She says that the organisation has built itself a name within the country as it is not new here having been around for some time helping out several farmer organisations and cooperatives, an example being IABM, a maize cooperative in Muhanga which was supported to start the maize hybrid seed multiplication, improve quality and expanding their maize processing business.
She also assured representatives from the organisation full back up from the government.