RWANDA – Agriterra, a Dutch agriculture organisation, has opened an office in Rwanda in a bid to support the country’s efforts of strengthening the agriculture sector.

Under its operation, Agriterra seeks to ensure that ambitious farmer’s cooperatives engaged in dairy farming, Irish potatoes, maize, and sugarcane among others are strengthened in various aspects.

Agriterra was founded in 1997 by Dutch farmer organisations in the Netherlands but is currently working with farmers from different continents, including Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Agriterra supports horticultural cooperatives in different aspects such as establishment of demo plots in a cooperative in the proximity of members and development of business plans for collective collection and enhancing market access.

The organisation will also support farmers through creating business linkages for financing and market opportunities; training of model farmers in good agricultural and post-harvest handling practices; mobilisation of new members; and expansion of land under cultivation.

In addition, Agriterra will provide specialised advisory services aimed at improving accounting and financial management practices, business planning and implementation, good cooperative governance and training the cooperative in record-keeping at the farmer level.

Speaking at the launch, Jasper Spikker, Agriterra’s country representative expressed his delight at the coming of age of the organisation having worked with various entities in the country but has now become independent, reports New Times.

He noted that the organisation is going to strengthen farmer cooperatives through advice, trainings and exchange visits where farmers will acquire skills leading them to become truly business enterprises.

Such skills would also include good agricultural practices and access to quality seeds as failure to acquire quality seeds has made farmers get poor yields.

‘’We are working on ensuring that there is easy access of quality seeds for the farmers to plant as planting good seeds automatically provides good yields and that is what we want to see these farmers getting,’’ he said.

This is expected to stimulate rural industrialisation, enable farmers to easily access market for their produce and improve livelihoods of the local farmers.

In addition, Agriterra Manager in charge of Agri-advice Mr. Cees Van Rij underscored the importance of supporting farmers grouped in cooperatives.

He said that farmer’s cooperatives enable in stimulating growth by enhancing ease of access to market as well as enabling famers raise and source capital to fund their agribusinesses.

Cees Van Rij also noted that the launch of Agriterra in the country was also motivated by the strong similarities between the agriculture sector in Rwanda and Netherlands.

Deputy Chief Executive Officer of National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), Sandrine Urugeni, noted that she was optimistic that the launch of Agriterra is going to greatly help local farmers.

The Dutch Ambassador to Rwanda Her Excellency Frederique de Man hailed Agriterra for having opened its doors in the country and promised to keep work closely with the organisation in its efforts of transforming the agriculture sector.