The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: WFP to Purchase Farmers' Produce Worth Rwf 0.7 Billion

Kigali — Under its five-year initiative dubbed Purchase for Progress (P4P), the World Food Programme intends to purchase, in bulk, agricultural produce worth Rwf 741m from Rwandan farmers.

According to the WFP Country Representative, Abdoulaye, Balde, under the programme, the produce will be purchased to feed about 54,000 refugees currently living in Rwanda.

Balde added: "We focus on purchasing maize and beans from smallholder farmers".

He also noted that the initiative is just a demonstration of their growing partnership with the private sector.

Emmanuela Mashayo, a WFP official said that a total of 10 cooperatives and two cooperative unions have been engaged in the South and Eastern Provinces.

"The cooperatives represent a total of 14,000 farmers from whom over 4,100 metric tons of combined maize and beans would be purchased on contract," she said.

Over 160 farmers have been trained as trainers on commodity quality and storage management while all cooperatives participating in P4P activities have been trained on basic procurement procedures, Mashayo revealed.

"Four temporary storage facilities were availed to cooperatives in Kirehe, Gatsibo, Bugesera and Nyanza, while small warehouse equipment like weighing scales and stitching machines were supplied to cooperatives".

Since the introduction of P4P, cooperatives are increasingly becoming aware of commodity quality as observed by the reduced number of rejected quality certificates as well as increased market opportunities for the farmers.

"Some cooperatives have developed linkages with financial institutions as a result of the WFP contract; however, the overall level of cooperatives' engagement with MFIs is still limited," said Mashayo.

P4P is currently in its pilot phase and it is so far being tried out in 21 countries.

In Rwanda, the primary goal of P4P is to support the efforts of the government to boost agricultural production and to improve the income of smallholder farmers by developing the market.

President Paul Kagame presided over the launch of the programme worldwide in 2008.

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