Farmers will no longer have to endure post-harvest losses or sell their produce at giveaway prices, thanks to new feeder roads constructed in seven districts across the country.
The European Union supported the construction of 700 kilometre feeder roads to the tune of 40 million Euros (approx. Rwf40 billion).
The roads were inaugurated on Thursday in Rulindo, one of the beneficiary districts. Others include Ngoma, Bugesera, Muhanga, Huye, Ngororero and Rubavu.
At least 100 kilometers were constructed in each district and the final touches will be completed by June, according to officials.
Farmers welcomed the construction, saying that it was difficult to take their agricultural produce to markets. It would get spoilt or sold at a giveaway price, leading to heavy losses.
“Before the road was constructed, I had to carry the produce to the market on my head or paid people to carry it for me,” said Chef Leonard, one of the farmers in Mbogo Sector, Rulindo District.
“Now that we have the road, it will be easier to sell our produce as our area is now accessible by vehicles. More shops are also likely to open giving us easy access to other products,” he added
Remy Twagirimana, the farm manager at Techno Stars, a pig farm, said it was always difficult for them to transport feeds from the market, and that whenever they wanted to take pork to markets, it was complicated due to the poor state of the roads.
“With the new feeder road, we are optimistic that clients will be able to easily reach us,” he said
According to Fulgence Nsengiyumva, the State Minister for Agriculture, the roads are part of the government’s programme to construct over 2,500 kilometers of feeder roads under the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy to connect farmers to markets.
The Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (2013-2018), stems from Rwanda’s Vision 2020 and guides medium term actions that will help lead to the achievement of the Vision’s goals.
It aims at speeding up Rwanda’s progress towards becoming a middle-income country and improving the quality of life for all Rwandans.
“Inauguration of these roads is a sign of good partnership (with EU), we have plans to build more roads to ensure farmers don’t incur losses due to poor road infrastructure. These roads are a result of good governance and the security we enjoy and it shows that, together with partners, we can achieve even more,” he said.
According to Michael Ryan, the head of the EU Delegation to Rwanda, the feeder roads are vital to rural development and were a valuable contribution to economic development and poverty reduction efforts.
“Feeder roads are the backbone of economic development and I believe they are very important because farmers will be able to easily transport their produce to the markets,” he said
Ryan added that the EU was committed to keep supporting development projects and had set aside over 460 million Euros to support various government initiatives.
Up to 200 million Euros will be spent on agriculture, 200 million on energy and 60 million to support governance and civil society, he said.