By Walcott Aganu
The Rwandan government has put a plan underway to implement an $11 million project consisting of horticulture centres that will help reduce post-harvest losses and boost farmers’ income, the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) reveals.
According to the Ministry, the project includes establishing a national processing and export center for horticulture products. The project will be implemented in partnership with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), and it is in the approval process between partners.
The project will be built in Kigali and four other local post-harvest handling centres in Rubavu, Rulindo, Bugesera and Nyagatare districts. It is expected to check the losses horticulture farmers have been incurring.
Under the scheme, vegetables such as garlic, pepper and ginger will be dried for local and international markets, a move that could help avoid acute losses.
Eugene Kwibuka, the Agriculture Information and Communication Program Manager at MINAGRI, said there are also online platforms under construction and trial in partnership with the private sector, including “J-i MUHINZI” for addressing vegetable losses that farmers have been suffering.
An assessment done by the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), the University of Rwanda, and the National Agricultural Exports Development Board in 2017 showed that more than 40 per cent of fruits and vegetables produced were lost before reaching the consumer.
Lack of facilities to preserve farm produce has been a major challenge that several African countries and their famers have been facing over the years hence the need for its leaders to take adequate steps to curtail the losses suffered by local farmers.
Rwanda has indeed set the ball rolling for others to emulate in building major facilities that will help in preserving farm produce after harvest to reduce harvest wastes, thereby increasing food security in the continent and increasing the profit margin of farmers. This move will definitely checkmate youth unemployment in the continent because many will start venturing into agriculture instead of waiting for white-collar jobs that may not be readily available.
In Nigeria, ‘Operation Feed the Nation’ was introduced in 1976 by General Olusegun Obasanjo’s government, focused on increasing food production, checkmating youth unemployment and stemming the tide of rural-urban migration of Nigerians.
What the government of Rwanda has done will surely help to encourage many to go into farming for the benefit of the country and the continent at large hence the need for other African leaders to take cogent and verifiable steps that will encourage its teeming young population to go into farming in other to boost food production, mitigate food insecurity and reduce youthful unemployment.
Indeed the call for Africans to go into massive farming can never be over-emphasized.