USAID/East Africa’s Market Linkages Initiative (MLI), recently, signed its final two agreements worth $588,000 with six cooperatives to promote food security.
MLI is a two-year regional programme funded by USAID, which partners with the private sector to promote growth in food staples and food security by integrating smallholder farmers into more efficient national and regional markets across East Africa.
According to a statement from USAID, based on per capita, Rwanda has the highest portfolio of MLI grants in the region and these grants are leveraging an additional $926,000 from the private sector in the same area.
“This grant gives us a scientific process to measure moisture instead of haggling. It creates more trust among farmers and increases our production and quality. As these increase, we can expand our market.” said Thaddee Nibishaka, one of the cooperatives’ president.
Sophie Walker, the Commodity Marketing Manager of MLI, remarked that the first step is ensuring properly calibrated weighing scales.
“If you don’t know how much something weighs, you don’t know how much you’re buying and distrust occurs between parties,” she noted.
The six chosen cooperatives received funds towards improving the quality, quantity and overall profitability of their current staple crop production.
Each grant requires a cost-share contribution from each grantee, thus encouraging the investment of local financing.