The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Agriculture Ministry in close relation with the Ministry of Youth and ICT have launched the project named ‘Agricultural Services and Digital Inclusion‘, to integrate the potential of ICT tools in transforming agriculture in the country.
This project empowers farmers to adapt to challenges they meet within this sector. Smallholder farmers in Rwanda feed millions need to get timely and reliable information and knowledge.
“This project aims at facilitating access to agricultural information and advisory services to more than 40,000 producers and thousands of rural youth and women,” said Attaher Maiga, the FAO Representative in Rwanda.
He was addressing attendants during an event to launch the project at Lemigo Hotel.
Maiga also said that bringing technology solutions closer to the needs of the poorest households in Africa, in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is FAO’s direct contribution to poverty reduction, food security and nutrition”.
He noted that the project is innovative in its approach and will be developed in its pilot phase in Rwanda and Senegal.
“Impact of these technologies is not entirely positive. There is a wide inequality between sophisticated internet users and those who do not have the necessary skills to use or benefit from information and communication Technologies (ICTs)”.
It is on this basis that FAO and its partners have been involved in development and implementation of practical solutions for digital inclusion as well as strengthening and expanding innovative initiatives for ICT in agriculture.
Indeed, development of applications in the first phase of the Project will be organised around 4 themes: Animal health and feeds, weather and climate adaptation services, nutrition, and the agricultural markets.
These applications will essentially facilitate access to real-time information in the agricultural markets by connecting producers to consumers; disseminate information on animal health and feed; help farmers to forecast weather and climate changes.
Agricultural Services and Digital Inclusion in Rwanda will therefore see an increase in agriculture production and consequently lead to increase of agro-exports.
This project will succeed by functional relationships of all stakeholders with a view of ensuring that project objectives are achieved through results-based management and real ownership in a sustainable win-win partnership.
Maiga strongly believes that once these solutions have been developed and adapted to the needs of local population, all project’s stakeholders will contribute to reducing inequalities.
The benefits that farmers in Rwanda will reap from this project were reaffirmed by Rwanda Farmers Organization Representative Mr. Joseph Gafaranga who attended this event. He told TAARIFA that once this project is implemented, farmers will get many benefits in various ways – such as getting information about climate change and where to get or send a given product thanks to available information and tools to carry that information.
He also noted that farmers will be able to solve price inequality problems that existed among them and their buyers or consumers as a result of lack of information. “A farmer in a given area that sells potatoes at Rwf200/kg, while in town they are sold at Rwf300 – 350 /Kg, incurs losses because the cost of transport/kg would not go beyond Rwf25/kg,” Said Gafaranga.
As said by Gafaranga, the price increase used to discourage consumers who would not afford them and end up stopping to purchase them whereas some people earn lots of money in between.
He said that farmers are ready and willing to disseminate information on weather and crop calendar; and provide nutritional information on the production, conservation and consumption of food.
Following the identification of the Focal Points in both MINAGRI and MYICT, and involvement of various stakeholders, this project launch allowed exchanges between people development actors and FAO team to integrate people’s needs into final technological solutions that will be developed.