A HIGHLY AMBITIOUS PROJECT that seeks to empower small-scale farmers and help uplift their livelihoods has been launched in the country.
Dubbed "Community Empowerment through Economic Development (CETED)," the $3 million (about Rwf2.3bn) project raises expectations of the rural citizenry for better welfare.
The five-year World Vision Rwanda-funded project is being flagged as Inzozi Nziza (which literally translates to 'good dreams').
World Vision is a Christian non-governmental organisation that works to improve the lives of children and families and intervenes in the area of poverty eradication.
The project targets more than 247,000 people living in Nyamagabe, Huye and Nyaruguru districts of Southern Province.
It seeks to enhance and sustain economic impact by facilitating access to existing and new profitable markets through improved governance and management capacity of entrepreneurs and cooperatives, increasing household food security and assets for entrepreneurs, increasing access to financial services for entrepreneurs and cooperatives and improving business through leveraging ICT for development.
The overall goal of the project is to improve household income by 150 per cent in targeted communities by 2017, officials said.
George Gitau, World Vision Rwanda director, told The New Times that although the target looks highly ambitious, he is confident it is viable.
He said by targeting small scale farmers, the project sought to help them improve the lives of beneficiaries by "converting subsistence farmers into market producers and making them millionaires."
"We want to make sure that their incomes grow drastically. We are talking of a big increase, a big growth in what they are doing," Gitau said.
Under the project, the organisation is set to help introduce "high-value cash crops" and, through value chain packaging, it will group beneficiaries under what it calls "commercial villages"- which Gitau defines as producers who can be able to bargain well on the market.
"Instead of being exploited by middlemen who come and buy their products at cheaper prices, the farmers will be able to group together and have a unified voice where they can be able to bargain the true value of their produce," he said.
Such models have been introduced in Kenya and Tanzania and have proven successful, Gitau said.
"We want to have small scale farmers who are able to grow for the market, to sell their products at the right prices and introduce crops that are in high demand on the market," he said.
Nyaruguru mayor Francois Habitegeko said he expected the project to help raise the level of welfare of beneficiaries and help reduce the number of people living under poverty line.
"It is a timely and well-designed project that we believe will improve the lives of our population," he said.
The 2012 Integrated Household Living Conditions survey ranks Nyamagabe (73 per cent), Nyaruguru (61 per cent) and Huye (46.6 per cent) among areas with high rates of people living under the poverty line.