GISAGARA — The Italian government through the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation [FAO] has committed $3million towards improvement of food security in Rwanda and two of her neighbouring countries.
The program focuses on modernisation of agriculture by promoting market access under the New Partnership for Africa’s Development [NEPAD] frame work. Other countries to benefit from the three-year program are Burundi and Uganda.
In Rwanda, the project will be implemented in three border districts of Gisagara, Gicumbi and Burera. In Burundi, it will benefit the provinces of Ngozi, Kirundu and Kayanza, while in Uganda it will be executed in Kabale and Kisoro districts.
The project also seeks to improve livelihood through diversification and commercialisation of agriculture and livestock farming.
Speaking at the launch of the project in Gisagara district on Friday February 15, the assistant FAO representative to Rwanda, Laurent Gashugi, said the project seeks to reduce subsistence farming to commercial agriculture.
He said: "Through cooperatives, we shall help farmers in transforming their produce for the market. Farmers will cultivate selected crops with high demand at the local, national and cross border levels. They will also be helped in accessing markets for their produce."
During the launch, farmers grouped in different farmers’ cooperatives in the district, agreed to embark on the intensive cultivation of maize, cassava, pineapples, milk and honey production. They also committed to cultivate mushrooms.
According to Epimarque Nsanzabaganwa, of the Ministry of Agriculture, the project has been integrated in government’s programs like the Strategic Plan for Agriculture Transformation, Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy [EDPRS] and the Green revolution.
"We will not create new structures. The project activities will be streamlined in the existing structures so as to cut costs of its management," said Nsanzabaganwa.
Juvenal Kabirigi, the project manager, said during the three years, farmers will be assisted especially at the post harvest level so as to maintain quality.
"We shall also help farmers in designing good business plans so that they can access credit from banks. We shall give them support in form of small grants for the improvement of quality," said Kabirigi.
The district vice mayor in charge of economic affairs, Heshron Hategekimana, urged farmers to focus on producing quality products to suit the competitive market.