Ensuring farmers have something to harvest in Rwanda

John Paul Sesonga
Sep 29, 2017 · 3 min read

With smallholder farmers losing up to 15 per cent of their harvest to pests and mould due to poor storage, farmers in Rwanda have embraced the use of silos to prevent losses.

Ruth Mukamana shows the quality grain from her storage silo. Photo: WFP/JohnPaul Sesonga

Ruth Mukamana, a 33-year-old mother from North eastern Rwanda, is among hundreds of smallholder farmers who have received storage facilities from WFP to boost food storage capacity at the household level for sustainable food security. Ruth and her husband Dionese Riberakurora, had previously lost food after harvest due to poor storage, which meant they did not have enough to feed their family. However, thanks to the grain silo her family received from WFP that has changed.

“I stored 750 kg of maize in the silo after the harvest in June last year,” Ruth explained. “I was able to keep the maize in good condition for us to eat right up to the next harvest season and lost nothing.”

In 2016, WFP distributed 834 storage facilities (plastic and metallic silos, and improved crop storage bags) to men and women in farming regions across Rwanda, with the overall goal to improve smallholder farmers’ incomes, as well as food and nutritional security, through reduced post-harvest losses and greater market integration. Farmers like Ruth were trained on how to dry crops, to test for moisture, and on the use of hermetic equipment for grain storage.

Members of a farmer’s organisation participating in the post-harvest handling training. Photo: WFP/JohnPaul Sesonga

The storage units are all water resistant, rodent and pest proof, air tight and highly durable. This guarantees long-term preservation of food without need to add any chemicals. As a result, farmers have been able to save money which would have been spent on fumigation. The facilities enable farmers to retain over 98 percent of their harvest in good condition and contribute to an improved household income.

The initiative not only allows farmers to have enough food for the families throughout the year but also surplus which they can sell. Ruth had enough grain to mill part of it and sell it at twice the usual price. The additional income has enabled Ruth and her husband to pay medical insurance for their children and respond to other financial needs at home.

With additional funding WFP plans to expand this initiative and link with business partners to reach 100,000 smallholder farmers by 2018. In the process, WFP plans to include a comprehensive support package to assist smallholder farmers, Government and private sector partners with the necessary training, and provide field support to improve overall grain management in Rwanda.

Reducing food waste — including post-harvest losses — is one of the key steps to achieve Zero Hunger. Post-harvest food loss is a major contributor to hunger and under-nutrition, affecting farming families across Africa.

World Food Programme Insight

Insight by The World Food Programme

John Paul Sesonga

Written by

John Paul Sesonga; A former journalist, now a Communications associate at UN World Food Programme Rwanda Country Office.

World Food Programme Insight

Insight by The World Food Programme