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Grants leverage private investment toward Rwandan food security


USAID/East Africa’s Market Linkages Initiative (MLI), managed by CARANA, has signed a total of $588,000 in grant agreements with six Rwandan cooperatives and companies, leveraging another $926,000 from the private sector to build drying centers and equipment to boost grain quality. The improvements at collection centers and cooperatives directly and indirectly benefit 45,000 Rwandan farmers who use the centers, as better grain quality will help them get better prices.

COAMV Cooperative President Thadee Nibishaka signs agreement in front of site for new maize dryer. COAMV Cooperative President Thadee Nibishaka signs agreement in front of site for new maize dryer.

The six chosen grant recipients received funds to improve the quality, quantity and overall profitability of their current staple crop production. Each grant requires a cost-share contribution from each grantee, encouraging investment of local financing. These funds will help the cooperatives and companies add value to Rwanda’s staple food supply chain while integrating nearby farmers into national and regional markets.

To maintain quality, it is essential that the commodity be dried down to 13.5% moisture before storage. ENAS in Kirehe district can bulk considerable volumes of grain through its 37 consolidation points in the Kirehe district--however, if that grain is still wet, it cannot be stored. The MLI grant of $106,000 plus $387,000 in private financing will fund installation of a dryer at ENAS’ new warehouse.

The COAMV cooperative in the northern Musanze district serves over 13,000 maize, bean and potato farmers in the region—and processes 500 metric tons of maize into flour a day. Yet, because it lacks sufficient drying space and moisture measuring equipment, the COAMV often loses a hefty percentage of its harvest production due to rotten maize. The $33,000 MLI grant and $30,000 in matching local financing will fund a new drying center, along with a moisture meter, weighing scales for the collection centers, and a fence to secure the property.

Sophie Walker, MLI’s Commodity Marketing Manager, said properly calibrated scales and quality assurance for both buyer and seller are building blocks of trade. Cooperative President Thadee Nibishaka agreed, “This grant gives us a scientific process to measure moisture instead of arguing. It creates more trust among farmers and increases our production and quality. As these increase, we can expand our market.”

For 24-year old, Grace Ufitinema, who was sorting beans with her child during the February signing ceremony, the grant’s impact is simple but powerful: “The grant helps the cooperative grow. As the cooperative grows, I will get more money and it will be better for my family.”

Local press coverage: Cooperatives get US$580,000 boost (All, The New Times)

Published March 2011