RWANDA – The Agricultural Public-Private initiative of Rwanda has received funding worth Rwf18 billion (US$19m) from The Netherlands to support the professionalisation of maize and potato value chain and rehabilitation of tea estate.

The four year investment project will be implemented by Africa Improved Foods, Agriterra – a Dutch non-government organization – and KUMWE, a firm that conducts post-harvest handling and logistics.

Other implementing partners include Delphy and Seed Potato Fund based in potato value chain as well as SORWATHE which, in partnership with conservation NGO-ARCOS will rehabilitate tea estates to improve water management and use uphill agroforestry to stop erosion and generate income for farmers.

The projects are expected to support the governments efforts of improving the livelihoods of local farmers engaged in dairy farming, Irish potatoes, maize, and sugarcane and others.

At least 60,000 rural households in farming are set to see an improvement in their livelihoods.

The project seeks to supply certified quality potato seeds in the Musanze and Burera Districts in Northern Province, Nyabihu and Rubavu Districts in Western Province, Nyamagabe in Southern Province, Nyaruguru in Western Province and Kirehe in Eastern province.

As reported by NewTimesRwanda, Rwanda produces 916,000 tonnes of Irish potatoes every year, making it the third most popular food crop produced in the country covering 3.9 per cent of the total cultivated area.

The average productivity of potato is ten tonnes per hectare which is low as compared to yield potential.

Figures show that about 86 per cent of potato growers in Rwanda use improved varieties of Irish potatoes and about 89 per cent of farmers apply inorganic fertilizers.

In the maize value chain, the support will focus on eradicating aflatoxins in maize. Farmers that will benefit are from Eastern and Northern provinces.

Studies show that significant percentage of maize produce is rejected by agro-processing factories due to poor quality caused by aflatoxins.

The partnerships to professionalize potato, maize value chains result from the SDG Partnership Facility of the Netherlands Enterprise Organization.

Each partnership consists of a 50 per cent grant by the Netherlands Enterprise Organization matched by a further 50 per cent provided by private sector companies.

The investments aim to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals on ending hunger, decent work and income, health and food safety and climate action according to Matthijs Wolter, the Designated Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Rwanda.

Dr. Charles Murekezi, the Director-General of Agriculture Development in the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources said the three partnership projects are an important step in a growing agenda of trade and investment between the two countries and added that the partnerships will be a stimulus for Rwanda to continuously improve its business climate.

Guido Landheer, the Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Agriculture in The Hague said that the concept of circular economy is the new focus area for Dutch Innovation.