THE PRIVATE SECTOR FEDERATION (PSF), through its Chamber of Rwanda Farmers, has urged farmers to adopt modern agriculture practices, and work with financial institutions to boost productivity.
Jean Munyemana, the head of the Chamber, said many farmers lack interest in transforming their activities into viable and sustainable business projects.
Munyemana was speaking on Wednesday during a one-day meeting of farmers from the Southern Province, representatives of banks and local leaders.
The meeting discussed modalities of facilitating farmers to access credits and post-harvest management techniques.
Munyemana said the lack of credit limited farmers' productivity, something he attributed to the reluctance by some financial institutions to offer loans to farmers and the limited capacity of farmers to write bankable business proposals.
Many farmers are also yet to consider their activities as a business, he said.
"We want farmers to start practicing commercial agriculture," he said, adding that increased investment in the sector will increase productivity and uplift farmers' standards of living.
Munyemana said PSF will ensure easier access to finance and credit from banks and connect farmers to new markets through its 'Linking Farmers to Markets' (LIFAM) project.
Jerome Mbonirema, a representative of rice farmers in Huye District, said limited financial capacity is still a serious challenge facing smallholder farmers.
He noted that though financial institutions have started extending loans to farmers, a lot remains to be done to transform the sector.
He cited the longer periods it takes for farmers to secure a loan.
"In such a situation the loan won't help a lot," Mbonireba said, urging bank managers to study the possibility of shortening the period of evaluating projects in the agriculture sector.