About 203 farmer cooperatives from 18 districts met this Thursday at Hilltop Hotel in Kigali to review progress made under the Farm to Market Alliance (FtMA) initiative that helps to connect farmers to buyers and financial institutions.
The one day interactive meeting was organised by Rwanda Development Organization (RDO) and Rwanda Rural Rehabilitation Initiative (RWARRI) with support from the World Food Programme (WFP).
Eugene Rwibasira, the Executive Secretary of RDO urged farmers to seize the available opportunities starting from the platform provided by FtMA where they can access markets from credible buyers.
He said that the platform offers market linkages in a sustainable way and brings along various partners including farmers, cooperatives, buyers, financial institutions, agri-focused organizations and non-governmental organisations that support farmers.
Ammar Kawash, FtMA Country Coordinator commended farmer cooperatives that have joined the platform saying that together they will achieve more.
He said that more farmer cooperatives have been joining FtMA citing 44 new cooperatives that have just joined this year.
In the region, FtMA is also working in Kenya and Tanzania, Kawash said that despite the Rwanda chapter being smaller was doing better as an effective platform that is already taking root.
During the event, best performing cooperatives from last year’s season were awarded with prices. Winners received sheeting and silos for storage, drinking water tanks, umbrellas and T-shirts courtesy of Kenya Commercial Bank – Rwanda. The first category had four cooperative, second category with five cooperatives and the third category had nine cooperative.
In Rwanda, FtMA is the only initiative in the maize sector to have connected farmers through forward delivery contracts to the largest commodity buyers in the country. The initiative is making present financial solutions scalable through introducing third party guarantors and training farmer organizations on governance and financial practices. The commitment of buyers is further being strengthened through the promotion of increased adoption of advanced post- harvest handling and storage technologies amongst farming communities.
FtMA Rwanda is bridging the gap between buyers and producers to maximize financial returns for all value chain actors without sacrificing commercial viability.