Women coffee farmers graduate from innovative training program

Some awarded women farmers pose in a group photo with officials from Sustainable Growers, and districts after the graduation ceremony, Wednesday, May 15, 2019 (Emmanuel Ntirenganya)

Sustainable Growers will hold its final gradation today in Northern Province. This week three other graduation ceremonies were held for the coffee farmers who completed the year-long professional coffee farming and market access training program.

This week, over 14,000 women coffee farmers graduate from a year-long training in best agricultural practices in coffee, home roasting, gender, and market access activities. These farmers have been trained by Sustainable Growers - Rwanda (SG-R), a local nonprofit dedicated to increasing the economic independence of women farmers and their families through coffee training and market access. Four graduation ceremonies, one in each province having started from May 14th to end today on the 17th to celebrate the completion of this program. Local government officials and partners will be in attendance to help celebrate the progress and professional development of each woman farmer.

“We have a heavy agenda to enrich women’s potential  with skills  and means .Their focus and discipline inspires me greatly. These initiatives  impact positively on the entire  life -cycle of their respective families and Communities,” as stated by Christine Condo, Regional Director, Sustainable Growers.

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Christine Condo, Regional Director at Sustainable Growers, speaking to journalists after the female farmers' training programme graduation ceremony in Huye District, Wednesday, May 15, 2019 (E. Ntirenganya)

Sustainable Growers-Rwanda, in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, aligns with government goals to improve productivity, quality, and build market access for the coffee sector. The effective training, trade and public-private partnership model promotes the economic inclusion of women farmers and their families. Since 2014, SG-R has worked in 13 districts and supported 77 cooperatives, 25 coffee washing stations, and 32,233 farming families. The farmers received training in teams of 20 to 30 led by women extension leaders, also known as Relationship Coffee Women (RCW) who are trained in a broad range of content including Best Agricultural Practices, home roasting, cooperative management, and gender issues.

Prisca Mukamurenzi, 46, says that with best agriculture practices production per a coffee tree increased from about one kilogramme to between three and four kilorammes (Emmanuel Ntirenganya)

The graduation ceremonies honor 1,773 top-performing coffee farmers who served as model examples for the 14,232 farmers who graduate and receive a certification of completion for participating in the initiative. The model farmers also receive additional awards from the Premium Sharing Rewards, a point-based system in which farmers earn points for applying the agricultural lessons on their home plots as well as adopting government initiatives such as health insurance, school enrollment of children, and cleaner home latrines. These points are then redeemed for assets of their choice including cows, pigs, goats, sprayers, pruning shears, pruning saws, solar lights, mattresses, fabrics (ibitenge), radios and phones.

Nyaruguru District Mayor François Habitegeko said that awarding best farmers who produce high yield and quality coffee motivates them and inspires others, Huye District, May 15 2019 (Emmanuel Ntirenganya)

The graduation festivities mark the accomplishment of a significant milestone by both the women coffee farmers and Sustainable Growers-Rwanda alike commemorating the efforts made towards women economic development throughout Rwanda.

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