A two-day training program on how to enhance Rwandan farmers’ awareness of opportunities in the regional markets will kick off today in Huye District, Southern Province.
The program is aimed at facilitating farmers to graduate from subsistence to commercial agriculture.
According to a statement from the Ministry of Agriculture, the training will help farmers take advantage of the free movement of goods, commodities and services to expand their trade linkages with the East African Community (EAC) and of the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL).
In the statement, Dr.Agnes Kalibata, the Minister of Agriculture, observed that Rwanda still lacks a connection between farmers and traders.
“Our country has tremendously improved in terms of promoting agriculture, but we still lack a strong linkage between farmers and traders,” said Kalibata.
She added that the training would equip participants with knowledge to address the issue, which she said is one of the key priorities of the government.
The training will attract 50 representatives of farmers’ cooperatives and district agronomists from the eight districts of Gisagara, Nyanza, Kayonza, Kirehe, Bugesera, Nyaruguru, Rusizi and Huye.
They will be trained in production, post-harvest and storage methods, regional integration processes, its benefits and the market opportunities for their agricultural produce as well as use of ICT tools such as the “e-Soko System” to collect market information.
Antonio M.A. Pedro, the Director of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in the Sub-regional Office for Eastern Africa, said that the regional market could provide an expanded opportunity for Rwandan farmers.
“If Rwandan farmers are equipped with necessary skills and knowledge to connect to these markets and harness its potential, their market will expand. This training is a small contribution to this effort,” Pedro added.
He further urged Rwandan farmers to use the existing market information system such as ‘e-Soko’ to expand their linkages and become competitive in the region.
The training is organised by MINAGRI and the Ministry of the EAC Affairs in conjunction with UN agencies including UNECA, FAO and WFP.