The World Food Programme has donated 60 grain dryers worth Rwf27 million to small-holder farmers cooperatives countrywide.
The Grain-Pro Collapsible Dryer Cases, whose ventilation fans are powered either by solar energy or grid power, is an innovative product. It provides for prevention of condensation, moisture ingress, and control of infestation without toxic fumigation.
The equipment will help to strengthen capacity to quickly and adequately dry produce.
The official handover of the dryers was held at Codar office, one of the maize growers cooperatives in Nyagatare District, on Friday.
Gustave Nshimiyimana, who represented the Ministry of Agriculture, thanked WFP for the commitment to help farmers produce good quality maize for international markets.
Nshimiyimana advised the beneficiaries to take good care of the dryers.
“Despite the fact that equipment are of high quality, they would be of no use if you don’t maintain them well. The donation is a sign of trust you have from WFP,” he said.
Nshimiyimana further shed light on the national programme of buying excess produce from farmers, saying “farmers have to keep quality produce for a long time until the government buys it. In this case, they need dryers like the ones we have been given by WFP.”
According to Francisco Mendes, WFP Coordinator in Rwanda, the aim is to maximise the quality of grain, reduce post-harvest loss and help farmers to be able to deliver quality food to the market.
“The dryer cases are low cost solution for safe, effective and convenient drying of a vast range of agricultural commodities,” he said.
It doesn’t need fuel or electricity because it uses solar energy, which is the simplest and most economical drying method, he added.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources estimates between 15 and 22 per cent post-harvest losses in cereals annually.
The losses affect the incomes of farmers and consumers due to continuous price fluctuations as a result of diminished food supply.
WFP buys maize and other commodities from farmers.
WFP assists more than 40,000 small-holder farmers affiliated to cooperatives in Eastern, Northern and Southern provinces.
Eugene Mbonyishuti, one of the farmers, said the dryer will help solve the burden of post-harvest losses.
“We have been in need of safe storage, drying and transporting grains. Our produce lose quality due to poor post-harvest handling.