Japan’s International Development Agency (JICA) has handed over a five-year agricultural project to the government, which will continue to run it.
The ‘Smallholder Market-Oriented Agriculture Project (SMAP)’ which was piloted in twelve districts, including Rwamagana, Kayonza, Kirehe and Musanze, aims to help farmers move from subsistence farming to producing surpluses for both national and international markets. The project will now come under the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB).
Farmers were trained in different skills, including how to conduct market surveys, better awareness of agricultural seasons, and growing crops based on supply and demand. Much of the training was in horticulture and rice production. It is hoped that farmers will acquire sufficient skills to gradually move to commercial farming.
“SMAP project will continue with Rwanda Agriculture Board facilitation, during our project, we embarked on training farmers in horticulture and rice cultivation, we hope the project will grow further,” Michio Goto, Project team leader said.
“There are more nutritional crops, more vegetables. This has led to improved health for farmers, and incomes have increased tenfold. This is a great result that needs to be maintained” he added. The project will be in the hands of the government, effective next month.
More than 22,000 farmers have gained better skills in vegetable growing, and nearly 9,000 have gained expertise in rice production. Some of the trainees have also been given skills to train others, ensuring the sustainability of the project.
More than two hundred rice growing and horticulture cooperatives have been created, and it is expected that this will help farmers to better track market trends, season to season.
“We have been trained to grow crops season to season, using irrigation, in Twitezeimbere cooperative,” said Ananias Twahirwa, “we bought an irrigation machine worth Rwf1.5Million, we now grow vegetables and supply Kigali city.”
“Before SMAP, we grew crops without knowing trends, it is different now, we first do the market study through asking and even walking into various markets, and then grow depending on survey results,” he added.
Deputy Director-General for agricultural research and technology transfer, Dr Charles Bucagu, said that “JAICA has done a good job and RAB is ready to pick up where they left off, continue to provide the necessary skills and help to farmers.”
“We have so far prepared the team that will carry out research on the SMAP project, learn these skills better and continue serving farmers. JAICA has left 3000 teaching materials including books that explain about SMAP, which gives a good basis on which to continue the project.”