Rwanda: Over Rwf900m to Finance Urban Women Traders in Horticulture

The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources has said that it will partner in mobilizing funds to finance women traders in horticulture who have been affected by Covid-19.

Jean-Chrisostome Ngabitsinze, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources said that a study carried out in June and August this year found that urban women in horticulture were severely affected by Covid-19 and therefore need support to recover.

“After the study, we are going to mobilize financial resources to support the women. One of the major issues is the incurred losses as vegetables and fruits rot away due to lack of proper storage, handling and cooling facilities,” he said.

He said that women in urban areas could also be supported to exploit tillable wetlands.

“There are tillable wetlands in cities. We are also carrying out a study with Rwanda Environment Management Authority, City of Kigali because some wetlands that were once polluted need to be rehabilitated. The women can group in cooperatives and invest in horticulture in these tillable wetlands,” he noted.

Sandrine Irakoze, a vendor in Nyabugogo market, told The New Times that the reduced number of clients and limited working hours during the lockdown has drastically triggered huge losses.

“The fruits rot away due to lack of clients. I used to sell 30 Kilogrammes of fruits in one day but the same quantity can even take a whole week which really damages their quality. We do not have facilities that can help store the fruits for a long time without damaging them and this is where we need funding,” she said.

The issues were compiled in a study dubbed “Assessment of Factors Affecting Urban Women Horticultural Traders (Uwhts) to stimulate the Horticultural Value Chain Development in Rwanda”which is produced in partnership with Catholic Relief Services (CRS).

According to the study carried out on 446 urban women traders in horticulture in the main markets in the City of Kigali, Rwamagana and Rubavu districts, the main challenges include Covid-19 consequences, limited access to storage facilities, limited access to business financing, commodities damaged, high cost of market space, cost of taxation, limited business skills and insufficient capital.

The challenges also include low market prices, transport costs, cost of taxation among others.

The study recommends a program to strengthen the urban women traders in horticulture in business skills, soft skills, and trader networks including use of available technology platforms.

There is a need for expanded farm-to-market horticulture infrastructure, post-harvest storage and ECD centers, it recommends adding implementing a production and marketing model for the women to tap into value addition opportunities is also paramount.

The urban women traders also need increased financial support and availability of accessible formal financial services according to the recommendations.

Rwf977.9 million funding

As a result of the study, a five-year program estimated to cost around Rwf977.9 million has been designed to help urban women traders in horticulture recover from Covid-19 effects.

Jude-Marie Banatte, the Country Representative of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) said there is a need for an action plan to be implemented in synergy.

“We have to work with other organizations contributing to this value chain. The plan is doable. The study gives good opportunities to enhance access to finance, infrastructure to improve women’s livelihoods and horticulture value chain,” he said.