6 November 2018

Rwanda: Five Young Entrepreneurs Are Transforming Lives of Local Farmers

opinion

Aime Kayumba is the chief executive of Rural Development Initiative (RDI), a youth led non-governmental organisation (NGO) that focuses on serving individuals and families in the poorest communities.

RDI was created in 2011 by Kayumba and four other students from University of Rwanda's College of Agriculture, formerly ISAE.

Their major aim was to promote innovation among youth farmers based in rural Rwanda to boost agriculture production through market oriented farming.

Aime in spects, at the youth connect summit in 2017.

They provide trainings with keen interest on value addition, linking farmers to markets, attractive agriculture diversification and providing effective extension services.

Kayumba says that by providing skills and technical know-how to farmers, they contribute to improving the status of food security in the country.

In addition, the Kayumba says, they provide education on nutrition education to promote households saving and purchasing of more nutrition's diverse.

"We also give veterinary services, agribusiness and agriculture productivity trainings, business start -up trainings, cooperative management trainings, poverty reduction trainings and Data collections services," he notes.

They all graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor's Degree in Rural Development and Agribusiness.

They were inspired into agriculture by the biting skills shortage in the sector as well as the enormous opportunities it offered, Kayumba said.

While on their field work in their second year at University, they interacted with farmers on the challenges in agriculture.

One of the farmers, an interviewee, raised a concern that attracted the students' attention.

The farmer's concern was that for many years, while on their field work, university students always asked the same question to farmers and yet provided no solutions.

Kayumba says he was intrigued by this concern, prompting him to ask fellow students whether they could volunteer over the weekend to research more on the framers' concerns and come up with solutions. They obliged, setting in motion the birth of RDI.

The students launched their initiative in Kicukiro and Musanze districts where they started working with farmers' cooperatives, training them in corporative management and access to market among others.

They received support from United Nations Volunteers who promised to support them in any community outreach.

"We were able to teach farmers how to protect their land through forestation," Kayumba noted.

In 2013, Kayumba added, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Director, joined them in Muhanga where they were teaching farmers how to design nursery beds for trees.

Now the organisation has three permanent and four part-time employees.

Henry Rwagasana is a model farmer in Rwimiyaga Sector, Nyagatare District. He trains the youth on how they can maximise small pieces of land for productive farming though zero grazing and improved cattle breeds.

He is among the farmers who have benefited from RDI.

Rwagasana says that RDI taught farmers how to keep records and milk hygiene.

However, the NGO also connected them to other donors.

"We hope to contribute to the development of the community so that in the future we can be like India or china. Those countries started by building the community. The chance we have is that youth can be part of that development. However, the development has to be sustainable," Kayumba notes.

He further noted that that the organisation still has a long way to build the capacity of farmers and change their mind-set on modern farming practices.

Challenges

"Sometimes we don't meet our expectations easily. We are planning to have a training centre in every province; we need donors who can give us land to build a training centre."

He adds that some fancier cannot trust them because they are youth.

The entrepreneur is glad that he has given job opportunities to workers while benefiting farmers.

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