Donatille Mukakomeza is one of the farmers in Nyamagabe district and also chairperson of Agro-Dealers Cooperative of Nyamagabe (KOPABINYA).
Though farming activities were not halted by COVID-19 lockdown, their activities in this season have been affected by lack of access to inputs coupled with several disasters.
“We sold about 350 tons to 500tons of agro products to farmers compared to 700 tons in the same season last year because many farmers couldn’t come out to buy inputs as usual, which ultimately affected the season,” Mukakomeza said, attributing the issue to COVID-19.
As if this was not enough, the erosion worsened the situation.
“Heavy rain disasters did more damage than coronavirus. For example I have sold 2.5 tons of the three (3) tons of beans expected this season,” said Marta Mukashema, one of the farmers attributing the shortage to heavy rains.
The National Institute of Statistics report released yesterday showed that in Quarter One (Q1), the agriculture sector was the hardest hit by the coronavirus making a fall in growth of -1% with food crops dropping -2% and export crops by -16%.
As far as they are concerned, KOPABINYA has got something that will help to recover from the crisis. The cooperative has secured donor funding to set up a farmers’ input center which will solve the problem of access and also prepare them for 2021season A which starts this July 1st.
The center worth Rwf62m will be completed in the next three months and will contain an agro pharmacy, a soil testing laboratory. It will also hire ten vet experts who will help in treating animals, and provide model farmer training.
“This is our recovery plan which will be a way of bridging the access gap to inputs and vet services which affect farmers,” Mukakomeza said.
KOPABINYA is one of the beneficiaries of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its Feed the Future Rwanda-Hinga Weze project grants worth Rwf114million awarded this week to private sector actors to improve the supply of inputs of three value chains (maize, high iron beans and Irish potatoes).
The six new grants were presented by USAID Hinga Weze project Chief of Party, Daniel Gies, who said they already have given grants worth Rwf.2.2billon ($2,365,142) to a variety of farmer organizations and others, to construct terraces and solar powered irrigation schemes.
One grant will set up a model Farm Service Centre in Nyamagabe in which KOPABINYA is contributing Rwf57. 6million while Hinga Weze project will inject Rwf70.5million.