Venue: Muhanga, 24-25 August, 2017
Due to the information gap on financial services and to offer a market linkages opportunity in agriculture of Rwanda, AgriProFocus Rwanda organized this fair to improve agribusiness development by facilitating an easy access to financial services and business linkages between the key stakeholders of the Agri-food sector in Rwanda.
The two-days event brought together different farmers especially farmers from the Southern Province of Rwanda, cooperatives, agribusiness companies, financial service providers and development partners organizations operating in Rwanda for better information sharing, dialogue and interaction and connections between different stakeholders to address various key issues in farmer entrepreneurship, including access to finance, access to market, and information on quality inputs and farm equipment.
On the ground called “Centre Culturelle de Muhanga” where the agri-finance fair held, among the presented participants there were the farmers, stimulating practical information & knowledge on access to finance & access to markets, in forms of exhibitions, dialogue and interactions. The exhibitors and various visitors met each other on the ground.
During the two days of the fair, 28 exhibitors and more than 1500 farmers visited the fair. The farmers’ (visitors) feedback revealed that they become accustomed to agri-financial products and some of the farmers learnt from other innovative farmers as well as deal-making with the agribusiness companies that were presented in the agri-finance fair.
Speaking during the opening ceremony, Mrs. Sajji Ryakunze, AgriProFocus Rwanda Coordinator, welcomed all the participants of this fair and mentioning their efforts especially all the exhibitors and explained how these agri-finance fairs (from 1st to 8th fair) become impactful for the stakeholders mostly the smallholder farmers of Rwanda. She thanked the co-organizers of the event especially Muhanga district, Agriterra, Help a Child, Dutch Embassy and ICCO cooperation for their tremendous collaboration in sponsoring and organizing the fair and thanked all the farmers & visitors as well. Close to end she highlighted the importance of working with financial institutions to increase their wealth and food production. Mrs. Sajji ended her speech hoping that the deals and partnerships will be made during the fair will reap fruits for the prospective farmer entrepreneurs of Rwanda.
As the Dutch Embassy was represented, speaking during the opening ceremony, Carian Emeka who is the Agricultural attaché of the Netherlands for Rwanda and Uganda, She said that “I would like to thank AgriProFocus Rwanda for organizing this event. The Netherlands Embassy has been a partner of Rwanda in the development of agriculture for many years and we plan to be so, for many years to come. Access to finance is one of the largest hurdles to overcome in the development of agricultural production in Rwanda. Without finance, there is no development. I think this event will give you an excellent opportunity to meet each other and discuss your ideas. And to come up with smart solutions to make finance work in agriculture”
Mr. KAYIRANGA Innocent, Vice-Mayor of Muhanga district, opened the fair whereby highlighting the importance of this agri-finance fair for the farmers of Muhanga district. “We highly thank AgriProFocus Rwanda and partners’ organizations for organizing this fair as a platform for cooperation in improving access to finance and market connections. To all the farmers, who use the given loans in other activities instead of their agribusiness projects and leading to non-repayment & mistrust from financial service providers, this fair will give you some skills useful in management of small funds and loans that you are given by different partners and from financial service providers. We hope that this fair will support in boosting the production and enhancing food security” said the Vice-Mayor.
On the agenda of the 2 days of agri-finance fair, there were exhibitions, the opening & closing ceremonies, but the most important activity was the section of discussions, where farmers were able to challenge financial institutions, agribusiness companies, and other presented partners.
During the discussions, the financial institutions that were present (KCB bank, DUTERIMBERE IMF, CLECAM EJO HEZA, SACCO, BRD, Urwego Bank, Umutanguha ltd, Unguka Bank) took opportunity of sharing and explaining about their products. On the second day of the fair, Dr. Innocent Simpunga who is a professional farmer in the region talked about agriculture production and marketing. He encouraged the farmers at boosting the production but he emphasized at producing the products of good quality which attracts the clients. The farmers acquired this dialogue as a good advice for improving their agribusiness projects. The exhibitors (farmers) explained about the products and the farmers’ cooperatives showed their products whereby mentioning the role of development organizations like AgriProFocus, Agriterra, Child fund, ICCO cooperation, USAID/PSDAG in the implementation of their farming projects. All the news from the fair was broadcasted in the online newspapers and Radio Rwanda where radio listeners were shared about the opportunities from agri-finance fair. The first day was closed by having a business drink (cocktail) to help people network and make deals one another.
Here is the feedback from the fair, where a farmer visitor said that “I did a deal with KCB bank, bank agent explained to me about process of loan request from their bank. I found it simple and they promised to give me a loan by next week, with that loan I will have enough investment for my agricultural projects of the growing season A, 2018”
During the closing ceremony, Mr. Thacien Ngumyembarebe , Director of Agriculture and Natural resources lauded the efforts made by AgriProFocus Rwanda and different partners organizations, all the exhibitors, for the tremendous collaboration in organizing the fair and thanked all the participated farmers. He also highlighted the importance of working with financial institutions like banks and SACCOs to increase their wealth and food production. He ended speech reminding that the deals & partnerships made during the fair will reap fruits for the prospective of the country development.
The fair was closed officially on Friday, August 25th 2017 by Director of Agriculture and Natural resources in Muhanga district.
With the media, you can see the atmosphere at the fair: