Local farmers and cooperatives in Kirehe District, in the Eastern Province, have acquired skills in post-harvest handling, storage and management of their produce, under the Sell More For more programme, sponsored by USAID.
Maize farmers alone lose an estimated 30-40% of their crop after harvest.
The initiative is part of the Ministry of Agriculture’s strategy to improve food security in the country.
The initial training brought together members of two cooperatives; Ibyiza birimbere and Terimbere muhinzi, but is set to benefit 24 maize cooperatives.
“I was particularly pleased with the cooperative leadership course we completed. I am optimistic that from these trainings, the cooperatives will maximise production and sales,” said Evariste Kaberuka, the president of the Ibyiza birimbere.
During the launch, the USAID/Rwanda’s Mission Director; Dennis Weller, said he was struck by the eagerness of the farm leaders to apply business principles to farming.
“This training is a good demonstration of how the US is working under the Feed the Future initiative to accomplish greater food security for Rwanda,” Weller added.
Last year, the Ministry of Agriculture formed a taskforce to combat post-harvest losses in staple crops.
They are currently working with USAID and the World Food Programme to reduce these losses by linking producers with surpluses of staple crops to domestic and regional markets.
By improving business practices and introducing quality-enhancing techniques, farmers will be able to sell to much larger and more reliable markets, such as the World Food Programme’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) programme.