PSF organizes Accountability -Day to promote market linkages for Rwandan farmers.

Christine Murebwayire, the chairperson of Chamber at PSF

The Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF), through the Chamber of Rwanda Farmers’ (CoRF) in partnership with the Kingdom of Netherlands, has organized ‘Accountability Day’ that will take place from December 2nd to 5th 2016. The event will see government, private sector players, civil society and agricultural experts engage in discussions pertinent to agriculture and food security.

Among the topics to be discussed are the challenges of feeding the future, climate change and impact of advisory services on market access. The event is expected to attract more than 300 farmers from across the country to showcase agricultural produce, share experiences and discuss issues in the sector.

PSF’s Chamber of Rwanda farmers will also share with the public achievements that have been made so far and invite farmers to discuss various challenges that they are facing and possible solutions.

The Chamber of Agriculture and Livestock is made up with seventeen (17) associations involved in cultivation and other agricultural related businesses in crop and livestock production.

Speaking about the event, Christine Murebwayire, the chairperson of Chamber at PSF said the "Accountability Day" will be their first ever great opportunity to assess and evaluate themselves on their operational working scheme since they started operations in 2006.

“We are pleased that we will be meeting our counterparts and farmers who supply Rwandan products on the international market” she said.

She mentioned that the event will be a good opportunity to share experiences and learn good practices from experts across various countries such as Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo Brazzaville with whom PSF has cultivated good relations.

“These (guests) are people that we have strong partnerships with. Our target is to exchange commodities and work together to achieve common developmental goals” she explained.

She said that on the agenda of the accountability day, with the assistance from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and East African Affairs (MINEACOM) and the National Agricultural Exports Development Board (NAEB), participants will discuss challenges on the market like packaging and International certification as well as market demand.

Agriculture Exhibition

An agriculture Exhibition will take place from December 2-5. Farmers across the country have been invited to participate in the agriculture and livestock exhibition whereby various agriculture and livestock products will be available in abundance for participants and the general public to purchase.

“The particularity of this exhibition is that we will exhibit in value chain form. This means that for instance for Irish potatoes, we will have Irish potato farmers showing their produce; agro-dealers will showcase various products that are required by farmers to treat and prevent diseases in potatoes; retailers, processors and exporting companies will be present to exhibit and talk about the services they can offer the farmers in terms of providing market for their produce. All 17 associations which deal in different farm produce will exhibit this way (in value chain form)” she further explained.

The exhibition will create important links between the farmers and the public.

Regarding the benefits of Accountability Day and the exhibition, in particular, Murebwayire classified benefits into two categories; for farmers and for the public visiting the Expo.

Through the networking sessions that will take place, farmers will have opportunity to be connected to big companies who will potentially buy their produce in future or even facilitate them to build their production capacity. During the event, the present financial institutions will have the opportunity to link up with the farmers to learn more about the available funds and how to access it to grow their businesses.

For the public visiting the Expo, Murebwayire explained that consumers will have a great opportunity to learn about the companies that package the products they purchase in the market and even the farmers who produce the food.

“Take an example of fruits, many people think that all fruits in Rwanda are imported yet we have farmers that cultivate a variety of fruits in large scale. The problem is that these farmers are actually not known. One of the reasons we organized Accountability day is for people to get to know the farmers and build relationships so that they can even purchase fresh produce from the farmers directly. Our aim to link farmers to the markets. So this is a great opportunity for both the public and the farmers.” she noted.

The Chamber’s Achievements

The Chamber of Rwanda Farmers (CoRF) is dedicated to promoting farmers’ interests in developing their businesses through capacity building initiatives and advocacy. The Chamber’s aims and activities are purely for economic empowerment working within the National policy framework to play a leading role in development and implementation of the policies, projects and other development interventions affecting its member farmers.

In 2012, the Chamber of Rwanda Farmers carried out a review of its work to align it to its vision of being an active member-driven organization and realized that the chamber’s performance was not matching its vision in terms of impact. This led to the launch of a project of Linking Farmers to the Markets (LIFAM) by Private Sector Federation to be implemented by the Chamber of Rwanda Farmers in 2013.

However, 2016 is a good milestone to look back at the farmers’ activities prior to the establishment of LIFAM in 2013 and the post launch period.

The Chamber is implementing LIFAM project ensured that the three strategic pillars: Capacity building, Access to financial services and post-harvest education are strengthened.

Before LIFAM project was launched in 2013, most farmers produced primarily for domestic consumption and production was characterized by low yields, inadequate market, lack of access to financial services, poor production capacity and farmers were challenged by lack of quality seeds and other farm input. The situation has greatly improved over the years following LIFAM’s intervention.

The farmers across the country now benefit from better farm inputs and increased outputs as a result. There are better agribusiness management capacity, exposure and access to new markets and financial support to farmers.

The chamber is grateful to LIFAM project for the technical assistance in organizing the farmers to build capacity, access to markets to countries like Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Asian countries, and in other African countries.

The chairperson of the chamber, Murebwayire said that she would like to thank the Government of Rwanda for providing an enabling environment for the project to thrive, PSF and its partners including The Kingdom of Netherlands that has supported the project since inception.

Murebwayire calls on Rwandans to practice professional agriculture because it is a channel through which unemployment can be addressed as there are numerous opportunities for job creation. Agriculture is an important sector for Rwanda’s economic growth and indeed for everyone. “No farmer, no food, no future” She noted.

About The Chamber of Rwanda Farmers

The Chamber of Rwanda Farmers (CoRF) is one of the Chambers under the Private Sector Federation (PSF) dedicated to promoting farmers’ interests in developing their businesses through capacity building initiatives and advocacy. The Chamber’s aims and activities are purely for economic empowerment working within the National policy framework to play a leading role in development and implementation of the policies, projects and other development interventions affecting its member farmers.