The Vice President of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has commended Rwanda for setting up agriculture value chain structures that promote agribusiness models and create jobs.
Dominik Ziller, who is visiting Rwanda on official duty said that the Rwanda Agribusiness Hub initiative has been properly implemented creating proper value chains and employment opportunities, which is the core at the IFAD mission.
Rwanda Agribusiness Hub is an initiative implemented in Rwanda by a consortium led by Kilimo Trust Rwanda through a 5-year R-YES project (July 2020 – December 2024) funded by IFAD and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
The R-YES project budget ($2.6M) was contributed by IFAD (US$1.75M), BMZ ($ 324,000), and Project Implementers ($ 533,000)- to create employment opportunities for 3,000 rural youth (50% female) in agribusiness as wage earners or commercial providers of products /services (1,200 direct youth and 1,800 indirect).
R-YES is implemented in partnership with Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum (RYAF), Rwanda Polytechnic, Rwanda TVET Board (RTB), and Agribusiness Industries.
The project implementation is currently focusing on building a hands-on skilled labor force and targets 7 value chains with the potential to attract and provide decent employment to youth in agribusiness. These include Dairy, Piggery, Potatoes, Maize, Rice, Poultry, and Vegetables.
Guided by labour demands, skills gaps, and other findings of a labour market study that was conducted by Kilimo Trust, thirty-five (35) employment opportunities were identified along with the different nodes of selected 7 value chains to train and equip youth with skills required to take advantage of the identified employment opportunities, ten (10) technical courses were designed by Kilimo Trust in partnership with technical colleges and agribusiness industries.
Kilimo Trust also conducted an Institutional Capacity Assessment (ICA) which helped to identify and select partners (colleges and agribusiness industries) that would become centers of capacity building under the R-YES project. As a result, 37 partnership agreements have been signed between Kilimo Trust and partners that are critical for the successful implementation of the Rwanda Hub.
Through the R-YES project, Kilimo Trust has signed agreements 25 agribusiness industries that are instrumental in providing in-industry training to expose youth to the world of work and provide employment opportunities.
While in Rwanda, Ziller this May 10, 2022 visited one of the centers – Masaka Creamery Limited (MCL) which has 46 youth employees of which 26 (over 50%) with hearing disabilities, including the Production Manager and the entire Production Department.
At MCL, Ziller toured the production lines and interacted with some of the deaf employees which required him to learn basics like- greetings and thanking in sign language.
What is special here is the plant (MCL) has employed plenty of youths with disabilities. This is something that is very much in line with IFAD’s mission to really live up to special development goals- to see youth and persons with disabilities are included,” Ziller said after the tour.
Officials of MCL said that the creamery is committed to providing employment opportunities to Deaf Rwandans and they plan to employ more eight deaf youth this year, and also add the cheese production chain to increase on the entities activities and employment opportunities.
With limited arable land for the 12 million population in Rwanda, Ziller said that he was impressed by the developed agro value chains in the country will enable Rwandans to diversify economic activities.
With two years left to the end of the planned project funding, Ziller said that IFAD will consider enabling Rwanda government to own the developed model- which can be replicated in all value chains, but also continue supporting the country’s development agenda and reduce the effects of the global crisis on Rwandan economy.
“With established value chains in Rwanda, there will be fewer effects of a global crisis on the economy for example Rwanda wouldn’t be affected by the war in Ukraine,” Ziller said.
Global crises such as COVID-19 have since 2020 had direct effects on the Rwandan economy which has dropped 3.4% as a result of many businesses closing down, and reduced revenue collection among others.
Andrew Gashayija, the R-YES Project Team Leader said connecting youth with industry is complementary and so far, 346 youth are benefiting from the R-YES project but the bigger plan is to increase the number of colleges and companies to train more youths.
According to Rwanda’s 2021 Labour Force Survey, youth have the highest rates of unemployment with 20.3%, much higher than the rate of 12.7% for adults.
Youth also represent a big portion of the informal economy and the government targets to create 200,000 off-farm jobs every year, a target that is yet to be achieved.