THE Rwanda Dairy Competitiveness Programme 11 (RDCP) will provide grants worth $4m to dairy organisations, cooperatives and individual farmers.
Dennis Karamuzi, the Deputy Chief of Party at RDCP, told The New Times that his institution recently called for project proposals from organisations in the dairy sector around the country to apply for the grants, saying that over 300 applications were received.
He noted that they are now screening the applications and will make assessment to identify those that are eligible to get the grants.
Karamuzi said the grants, ranging from $10,000 to $70,000, will be given to qualified dairy cooperatives, organisations or individual farmers.
"The main objective is to improve the competitiveness of Rwanda dairy products on regional market and to positively impact rural household incomes associated with dairy-related enterprises," Karamuzi said.
He said the grants will be disbursed over a four year period, with US$500,000 planned to be disbursed this year.
The grants are in four categories which include; business innovation grants, competitive service subcontracts, institutional capacity building grants and competitiveness investment fund.
However, for an organisation to access the grant, it must have at least 20 per cent of the whole project with RDCP 11 financing the remaining 80 per cent, according to Karamuzi.
Rwanda Dairy Competitiveness Programme was designed to help reduce poverty through expanded marketing of quality milk that generates income, employment and improves nutrition of rural households.
This could be achieved by linking existing and new smallholder dairy producers to expanding the market.
"Our goal is to improve the quality of the dairy products from production to consumption," Karamuzi said.
The programme which is in its second phase is implemented by LAND O'LAKES INC., and funded by USAID. The official said the grants are also in line with the government's broad programme of fighting malnutrition.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resource (MINAGRI), Ernest Ruzindaza, said the grants will help promote the quality of domestic dairy products to compete with other dairy products on the regional and international markets.
He said his ministry, in partnership with RDCP 11, are updating and developing the National Dairy Strategy which will help streamline the sector.