Kigali, Rwanda – 19 December 2018: Our rice value chain B2B event concluded Tuesday with ambitious commitments to design and introduce financial products that are responding to the needs of value chain actors.
The purpose of the Business to Business event was to link rice value chain actors and supporters to connect, collaborate, and create synergy in business. Around 100 stakeholders attended, including rice farmers, processors, government officials (MINAGRI and MINICOM), representatives of financial institutions like KCB Bank Rwanda, Equity bank Rwanda, Umutanguha ltd, Duterimbere IMF ltd, BDF fund, Access to Finance Rwanda, and representatives of development partners working in rice value chain in Rwanda, to name a few.
Participants were re-introduced to the STARS initiative. STARS is an acronym that stands for Strengthening African Rural Smallholders, a five-year initiative that aims to reaching more than one million people in four African countries.
During the B2B meeting, Mr Birasa presented the progress made and all taken steps as well as the innovative tools that are being used to go through the delivering strategy. He updated the participants in attendance on the achieved path and all related challenges.
Various farmers’ representatives shared their experiences with what is holding them back and the challenges faced, ranging from man-made bottlenecks like poor infrastructure, defect dams and weak irrigation mechanisms or substandard inputs to natural obstacles and drawbacks like flooding and erosions to name a few.
The value-chain B2B participants were presented with those many challenges facing rice smallholders’ farmers in Rwanda to participate in the modern economy. Many of them expressed their challenges ranged mainly from limited access to credit and insurance, to markets in which to sell their produce and the technical and input value chain development.
“Many farmers experience low productivity because of a combination of poor soils, poor farming practices and limited fertilizer use,” lamented Mr Gahizi Gabriel, the president of rice farmers’ federation in Rwanda that comprises 74 rice farmers’ cooperatives.
A panel composed of financial institutions experts stroke lively exchanges with many value-chain actors. Issues of input, labor and other cost of production financing were discussed in a lively debate after which a networking plan was established.
The overall views stressed that the finance institutions have the potential to trigger an impact on smallholder farmers’ productivity that could then attract other value-chain industries to take part in efforts to support these farmers.
“Smallholder farmers could become a long-term viable and sustainable option for increasing food security in Rwanda”, said Madam Dativa from MINICOM.
Rwanda government supports roll-out of agriculture insurance
The government has previously assured it will support expansion of insurance packages to the agriculture sector, which could increase competition and lower premiums, making it more attractive for farmers to embrace take up of insurance appropriate plans.
According to previous plans, the crop insurance cover was supposed to be commissioned in September at the beginning of the 2018 agricultural season A. Officials from the trade and agriculture ministries at the B2B meeting said they’re not sure about to when the commission would happen.
Experts have been calling for combined efforts between government, NGOs and insurance market players to speed up agriculture insurance scheme commissioning.
STARS initiative aims to working with finance market players to develop and implement innovative risk-mitigating tools and sector specific agricultural finance products for smallholder farmers.
The B2B meeting concluded with a cocktail networking event that brought together around 100 participants. It was meant to ease further networking and deep dialogue about what works in rural agricultural microfinance with access to extension services and market demands and share experiences.
It was concluded with commitments to attract investments and synergy among all rice value chain actors and stakeholders. Event Report to be shared later.
A big thank to everyone who participated in this Business to Business event. Together we can make agribusiness work for development.