RWANDA – Maize farmers in Rwanda have lauded the Sustainable Development Goals Partnership (SDGP) project, “Increased Maize Value Chain Efficiency,” for its significant milestones in both yield improvement and reduction of post-harvest losses.

The SDGP Maize project, which commenced in July 2019 and is set to conclude in June 2024, has already surpassed key objectives, particularly in addressing aflatoxin contamination and bolstering market access for farmers.

This transformative initiative, backed by a consortium including the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), Africa Improved Foods (AIF), Agriterra, Sight and Life, and the Rwandan Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, was designed to shield farmers from rejection of their crops due to aflatoxin levels.

According to information from its consortium, its realized objectives include the reduction of maize produce that was rejected due to high levels of aflatoxin(<10ppb) according to a Rwanda standard of 10 ppb, from 90% to 4%.

Marine Umukunzi, Senior Cooperative Advisor at Agriterra Rwanda and project manager, emphasized the project’s multifaceted approach.

 “We’ve worked closely with farmers to enhance productivity, reduce post-harvest losses, and facilitate market linkages while combating aflatoxin contamination,” she explained.

According to her, this has translated into improved incomes for farmers and empowered cooperatives through strategic capacity-building efforts.”

The impact of these interventions was highlighted during a recent event in Nyagatare District, where the KABOKU cooperative, situated in Umuvumba swamp, showcased successful adoption of minimum tillage techniques.

Wilberforce Ngabirano, President of KABOKU, lauded the project for facilitating access to premium markets, particularly Africa Improved Foods (AIF), which has substantially increased its procurement from KABOKU.

Augustin Kayiranga, representing AIF, underscored the cooperative’s exemplary performance, citing a remarkable surge in maize purchases.

 “In the 2023 farming season, AIF procured 931 metric tons from KABOKU, escalating to 2,000 tons in 2024, with an ambitious target of 3,000 tons by season-end,” he disclosed.

This mutually beneficial collaboration exemplifies the SDGP Maize project’s success in fostering sustainable business partnerships.

Furthermore, the project’s focus on innovative agricultural practices such as minimum tillage has received accolades from experts.

John Kayumba of the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) noted the technique’s positive impact on soil health and moisture retention, factors critical for enhanced productivity.

Reflecting on these advancements, Ngabirano emphasized the importance of embracing sustainable practices.

“Adopting minimum tillage can unlock hidden soil nutrients and boost crop yield, especially in a landscape where traditional tillage methods may deplete soil quality,” he affirmed.

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