20 February 2019

Rwanda: Youth in Agriculture Appeal for Incubation Hub

Photo: Sam Ngendahimana/New Times
Young pineapple farmers in Mugesera Sector, Ngoma District.

Youth in the agriculture sector are appealing for an incubation hub to help train, develop and support young people to set up their own businesses in that field.

They believe that the incubation hub would decrease post-harvest losses by bringing innovation for food security and adding value to traditional crops to turn them into into cash crops.

Speaking to The New Times yesterday, Regis Umugiraneza, the Director of Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum (RYAF), said that value addition for crops is needed to eliminate post-harvest losses that farmers experience.

But it requires other additional knowledge that the youth don't have.

A group of youth during a study tour at Mulindi agri-show. Sam Ngendahimana.

"We believe that an incubation hub can help. Young Rwandans cannot afford some equipment at the moment, or experts to help with business ideas. An incubation centre can have multipurpose equipment for each sub-cluster; food, beverages, cosmetics and input cluster," he explained.

He added that an incubation centre would be helpful for both farmers and youth in agribusiness, especially for beginners.

"An incubation hub will be a place to turn ideas into action. Beginners will gain products, marketing, packaging and even standards for their harvest. And, above that, they will have bank credibility as they will have a clear plan and will be ready to start their own businesses," he added.

He urged other youth who have agricultural business ideas to team up and start with what they have.

"Government wants to help us but it is not easy to help individuals, putting us together will ease government's work. And also remember to start around you, see what harvest is experiencing losses and start with it," he urged.

Ange Gahima, one of young agribusiness entrepreneurs, said that having an incubation hub is not very difficult as they can start with making Nyarutarama Incubation Centre more operational.

"I am wondering why that incubation centre is not operational. It has many machines we need but is closed. I think we can start with that," she said.

She added that because of lack of an incubation centre young people who have many good ideas find their hands bound due to lack of basic materials and expertise.

"There are many people countrywide with nice ideas, some of them did related courses but they have nothing to do or do what they do not like because of lack of that incubation centre which can open doors for them," she added.

Telesphore Mugwiza, the Director in charge of industry and entrepreneurship development at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, said setting up an incubation centre is very expensive and not easy, but they are helping the youth with ideas through various ways.

"Agri-processing machines are very expensive and we have many sub-clusters, setting an incubation centre is not that easy. However, we help people in agribusiness, beginners included. We give them technical support, study tours and help them to improve what they do. Whoever has an idea is welcome, we will give them any help they need," he said.

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