Rwanda is one of the four countries in the region that will benefit from a new Food and Agriculture Organisation-backed income-generating scheme, which seeks to help improve the livelihoods of disadvantaged youth and women.
The $4 million (Rwf2.7 billion) project, which seeks to promote nutrition sensitive agricultural diversification to fight malnutrition and enhance youth employment opportunities in eastern Africa, was launched in Kigali yesterday.
Up to $800,000 (about Rwf553 million) of the total value of the scheme will be channeled into Rwanda, officials said.
Besides Rwanda, the other beneficiary countries are Burundi, Kenya and Uganda.
In Rwanda and Burundi, the project will focus on poultry, while in Uganda and Kenya, it will focus on fisheries.
The three-year project is said to be the brainchild of African Heads of State with the view that it would help enhance the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) action plan.
It is hoped that the scheme will help create jobs for young women and men and improve their incomes as well as increase access to food.
Rwanda chose poultry to help boost existing measures aimed at addressing malnutrition, according to Agriculture officials.
Dr Christine Kanyandekwe, the deputy director in charge of Animal Resources at Rwanda Agriculture Board (Rab), said: “the project will speed up our goals to fight extreme poverty and hunger, especially in rural areas.”
She explained that Rwanda chose poultry due to its high demand in terms of eggs and pullets. “We need 600,000 pullets every month to satisfy the market yet we are producing only 200,000 pullets,” she said.
“We will offer training in poultry, especially how to shorten the production cycle and reduce the associated risks for small scale farmers so they can provide high quality pullets like ‘improved one-day all chicks’, then we will provide equipment like incubators, fund construction of poultry shelter and (extend) long-term loans,” Dr Otto Vianney Muhinda, the FAO Rwanda Assistant Representative in charge of programmes, said.
He added that the project support will cover all the value chain operations, including commercialisation of produce.
Among the targeted markets are schools to enable schoolchildren from poor families to have access to eggs.
“We are secure in terms of energy foods but in terms of healthy feeding we still have a long way to go, thus the need for this project,” said Dr Muhinda.
Poor households, especially those headed by women, will be prioritised, he added.
The project is also expected to boost the nationwide school feeding programme by availing at least two eggs per child a week in selected schools as part of broader efforts to fight malnutrition.
The programme is expected to sustainably assist small scale poultry farmers to increase production and promote linkages to markets.
The budget will be covered by the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF) through FAO, the project coordinator.
In Africa, the youth under 24 years represent more than 60 per cent of the continent’s population with over 70 per cent of them living on less than $2 per day.
FAO reckons that by generating attractive and decent jobs for the rural young women and men within the agriculture sector the project will significantly contribute to increased food security, livelihood resilience and reduced rural poverty.