Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rwanda's remarkable progress in almost all FARA’s priority areas

21-23 May. Kigali, Rwanda. The Executive Board of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) was to review the programs and plans of FARA over the 18-month period from July 2012 to December 2013. The main reason for choosing Rwanda as venue for the Board meeting is the country’s remarkable progress in almost all FARA’s priority areas of intervention such as advocacy and policy, improved access to knowledge and technologies, strengthened capacities, and partnerships and strategic alliances. The total investment is USD 700,000 per annum for the past 3 years. FARA has also trained seven postgraduate students who have already complemented their courses of study and returned to their assignments with RAB.

In order to find out first-hand how Rwandan farmers are benefiting through the interventions introduced by FARA and supported by various donors, the Board members visited two key field locations of the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) in Rulindo and Musanze districts.

In Rulindo, the Board visited the Kotemu Cooperative, where farmers have achieved new prosperity through cultivation of Orange-flesh Sweet Potato (OFSP), which was introduced by the FARA project Dissemination of New Agricultural Technologies in Africa (DONATA).
The members of the cooperative, most of whom are women, were dressed in bright orange shirts bearing the slogan Turye ibijumba bikungahaye kuri Vitamine A! (Let’s eat sweet potatoes rich in Vitamin A!). The women prepared an array of baked OFSP products. One, which they called ‘DONATA Doughnuts’, so impressed Dr Tiemoko Yo, Chairman of the FARA Board, that he exclaimed ‘This is the best cake I have ever eaten!’

At the Musanze site in the village of Gataraga, Irish potato farmers were similarly expressive about FARA’s work through the Sub-Saharan Africa Challenge Program (SSA CP). When Professor Monty Jones, Executive Director of FARA, asked the farmers what specific improvements in their lives had come about as a result of the FARA initiatives, he was overwhelmed by the immediate and varied responses of the farmers. One had been able to build a new house that he rents to a tenant. Another had been able to place her children in school, including one in university. Yet another had purchased a motor vehicle for transporting her crop to market. One after another, the farmers demonstrated their enthusiasm and satisfaction with the SSA CP project.