Reduced food waste means increased income for farmers in Rwanda

How WFP is helping tackle post-harvest losses and boost access to markets

Jonathan Eng
Jan 17, 2018 · 5 min read
Maize drying in the sun. Photo: WFP/ Jonathan Eng

In the richer countries of the world, food gets wasted on the plate. In the poorer countries, the problem is a different one. Here, food is wasted in production, harvesting, processing and storage.

At the same time, 815 million people are suffering from hunger. Making production more effective, decreasing post-harvest loss and linking farmers to the markets are all crucial elements in reducing food waste. This is why WFP has launched the .

The aim is to increase productivity, profits and resilience among small-scale farmers, with assistance from WFP and other member organizations. By transforming small-scale farmers into reliable market players, they hopefully will be able to produce more and to sell better — thereby increasing their income.

David Hagenimana has found shade to peel the maize. It is a lengthy process, especially since this cooperative has sold over 300 metric tons of maize. Photo: WFP/ Jonathan Eng

Farming is an important source of income in Rwanda — around 70 per cent of the population works in the agricultural sector. But Rwanda is also one of Africa’s most densely populated countries and land is scarce, making it important to increase production levels.

The COMANYA Nyanza cooperative in southern Rwanda is one of the partners of the FtMA. Tons of maize are produced here, and the partnership has resulted in an increase in both production, sales and income for the members of the cooperative. The cooperative involves over 2,000 small-scale farmers at ten different sites.

‘’The FtMA has linked us to the markets and given us training on good agricultural practices. They have also helped us with the issue of post-harvest loss,’’ explains Uwimana Leonille, the vice president of the cooperative.

Left: Farmers prepare the fields. The tools are old and preparing the field is heavy and hot under the Rwandan sun. Right: Maize is hung to dry on wooden stands. There are several rows running for hundreds of meters. Photos: WFP/ Jonathan Eng

Post-harvest loss is a major problem for food production in Rwanda, but the solutions are surprisingly simple. One of WFP’s solutions is to sell storage silos to cooperatives at a reduced price.

“Before, our post-harvest loss was about 30 percent. After the training that we have received from WFP, we are now down to around 10 percent’’, says Uwimana proudly.

The partnership involves more than good agricultural practices. The FtMA also links farmers to the markets, helping them with both establishing the contact and setting the right prices. The relationship and trust between the buyers and the farmers is built up over time. Trust can lead to increased investments and a more sustainable production and sale.

One investment from the buyers — to make post-harvest processing more efficient for this cooperative — has been to lend their machines to shell maize. Previously the grain was manually shelled and the long processing time often led to a deterioration of quality. Now this process can be done in a fraction of the time.

Using a maize sheller machine not only reduces the processing time but also protects the quality of the grain. Photo: WFP/ Jonathan Eng

The FtMA is one of the ways in which WFP is helping people become resilient and self-reliant. The results are not only an increase in production, profits and good agricultural practices. More importantly, it is a way out of poverty.

The reaction of farmers is testimony to the impact of the initiative.

Yvette Musabyimana, a mother of three, says her harvest is bigger now and her profits have increased: “I have left poverty thanks to the partnership with the World Food Programme.”

Clementine Uwamahoro also has three children. She has bought animals to increase the production even more through fertilizing the land. The big change for her is the step towards self-sufficiency. “I am now able to pay the tuition fees for my children and I can afford to give them food,’’ she explains.

Clockwise from top left: Farmers Clementine Uwamahoro, Fideline Ayinkamiye, Yvette Musabyimana and Xaverine Cyiza. Photos: Jonathan Eng.

Xaverine Cyiza is still working in the fields at 83 years of age. The Alliance has brought her a welcome additional benefit. She explains: “I have worked as a farmer for 60 years. Since we went into the partnership with FtMA, there has been a big increase in yields and higher profits. I can now afford a health insurance’’

Another farmer, Fideline Ayinkamiye, remembers the time before the Alliance was set up, when she and other farmers did not have access to any sustainable markets. Like Xaverine, she also cites the health benefits for her family: “My income has increased. Me and my family can now afford to pay for health insurance. It is no longer a problem when we get sick, we can go to the doctor and get help.’’

WFP is one of the eight global members of the Farm to Market Alliance (FtMA), which was formed to make crop markets work better for farmers by linking them to local and regional markets. Other members of the consortium are: Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Bayer Crop Science AG, Grow Africa, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Rabobank, Syngenta Crop Protection AG and Yara International ASA.

FtMA aims to transform existing agricultural practices through four strategic pathways, providing smallholder farmers with access to affordable finance, quality farming inputs, predictable markets and effective post-harvest management and other agricultural technologies. The commitment of FtMA is to empower 1.5 million farmers across 10 countries by the year 2022 using this comprehensive value chain approach. FtMA is operating in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia. For more information, please visit .

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Jonathan Eng

Written by

Communications Officer @WFP.

World Food Programme Insight

Insight by The World Food Programme