KOBIYAKI farmers with RWARRI, WFP engaging in construction works of the maize drying facility during Umuganda on Feb 24, 2018.
Farmers grouped in KABIYAKI cooperative in Gacurabwenge sector in Kamonyi district expect to secure the harvest as they are facilitated by development partners to build a drying facility worth Rwf 1,000,000.
The cooperative gathers together farmers from Yanza and Kibuza wetlands that gave the name of KOBIYAKI operates on 35 hectares with 426 members (390 women and 36 men).
It has been operating since two years harvested 120 tonnes last season and lost 30 tonnes due to poor post harvest management as they were using low quality facilities (plastic sheeting) to dry their maize.They were discouraged by the previous loss of 30 tonnes.
Speaking to the farmers who were building the new drying facility around their maize plantation at Umuganda community work on February 24, 2018, they said that the facility will help them reduce the post harvest losses, thanks to Rwanda Rural Rehabilitation Initiative (RWARRI) and World Food Programme (WFP) for initiating and supporting the initiative.
Through the ‘Farm to Market Alliance (FTMA)’ project that supports farmers to increase quality and quantity of harvest currently working with 8 cooperatives in Kamonyi district, RWARRI provided 100 sheets and 24 kgs of cloves to help KOBIYAKI farmers build a suitable drying facility.
Farmers themselves also contributed in finding construction ground worth Rwf 800,000 and (trees worth Rwf 60,000 which will be increased in partnership with the district).
Zainabu Uwizeyimana, the president of KOBIYAKI cooperative explained how difficult it took them to dry their first yield, although they finally lost 30 tonnes.
“We used plastic sheeting donated by WFP but a lot of crop was damaged because these equipment were not good for drying. We are now targeting to increase the crop in quality and quantity for markets,” said Uwizeyimana.The facility will help them to dry up to 20 tonnes according to Zainabu. “We lost 30 tonnes of the 120 tonnes harvested. As a farmer I was discouraged as I did not get the return on my investments. We thank the partners who gave us sheets and cloves,” she said.
Uwizeyimana said that they have buyers’ contacts including the African improved food and expect to give them good harvest in this season.
Laurent Iyamuremye, a 60 year-old member of this cooperative said that he manages to crop over 400 kgs on 32 acres per a season, which helps him to further his family’s basic needs apart from food.“This drying facility was needed as maize were damaged due to non-comfortable drying manner. We expect to handle post harvest losses with this facility,” said Iyamuremye.
Bideri John, Executive Secretary of Rwanda Rural Rehabilitation Initiative (RWARRI) said “We wish that farmers get the whole of their harvest without any loss. We partner with WFP and AGRA-Rwanda to avail facilities for post harvest handling and storage,” said Bideri.We work in 10 districts with 65 cooperatives and 31,000 farmers, helping them to prepare arable land and providing them seeds and fertilizers facilities,” he added.
Last year, maize farmers in Kamonyi district cropped 1,800 kilos per hectare and they expect to harvest 3 tonnes per hectare due to more facilities and efforts according to Bideri.
He said that the post harvest loss in maize reduced at over 20 percent in seven years ago, from 30 percent to (5-10%) now.