Rwandan vegetable farmers receive seeds worth US$950K to offset impact of COVID-19 on value-chain

RWANDA – The Government of Japan through its Japan Cooperation Agency (JICA) has signed an agreement with the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) of Rwanda to support the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan of the country through the provision of quality vegetable seeds worth US US$950,000.

The support, according to reports by New Times Rwanda, will target vegetable value chains of french beans, onions, tomatoes, carrots, cabbages, green peppers, eggplants and amaranths to be distributed and cultivated on approximately 4,200 ha across the country in 18 districts.

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It is part of JICA’s contribution to homegrown solutions promoted by the Rwandan government and targets value chains that are subject to price volatility and are the most purchased in rural and urban markets.

The 18 districts that will be served include Nyabihu, Rubavu, Rutsiro, Rusizi, Nyamasheke, Bugesera, Gatsibo, Kayonza, Nyagatare, Rwamagana, Kamonyi, Muhanga, Huye, Nyanza, Musanze, Gicumbi, Burera and Rulindo.

“We don’t just give quality seeds. But we also educate farmers to use quality seeds in order to achieve good production.”

JICA Director – Maruo Chin

In order to promote farmers’ self-reliance and scale up the benefits of this support, JICA will provide the seed for one-half of the area farmers intend to grow vegetables and farmers will commit to purchase the seed for the remaining half.

The beneficiary farmers will also be given technical guidance from extension officers in each district, using the experiences and technical skills gained through the Smallholder Market-oriented Agriculture Project (SMAP)1.

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“We don’t just give quality seeds. But we also educate farmers to use quality seeds in order to achieve good production.

“We expect that the resulting harvest will provide farmers with a good harvest which improves their health and immunity to diseases, including COVID-19,” said JICA Director Maruo Chin.

The support will add impetus to Rwanda’s economic recovery efforts following a slowdown in economic activity, which was occasioned by the lockdown aimed at dealing with the spread of COVID-19

In the fiscal year 2018/2019, Rwanda exported more than 26.7 million kilogrammes of vegetables which generated over US$15.6 million (about Rwf14 billion).

National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB)

“The farmers were unable to save the vegetable seeds which are perishable goods. It was difficult for them to get quality seeds during this growing season.

“Districts are urged to target farms that have the capacity to cultivate these vegetable seeds, including regular horticulturalists or cooperatives, or other farmers who agree to reimburse 50%,” said Jean-Claude Musabyimana, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources

The PS added that the Office of Horticulture (NAEB) will support farmers to access vegetable markets.

Horticulture, including vegetables and fruits is seen as an avenue for diversifying Rwanda’s export earnings, which is largely dominated by traditional cash crops, coffee and tea.

In the fiscal year 2018/2019, Rwanda exported more than 26.7 million kilogrammes of vegetables which generated over US$15.6 million (about Rwf14 billion), according to the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB).

This represents a 30 per cent increase in the volume and 26 per cent rise in revenues compared to the previous year.

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