A study conducted by Transparency International Rwanda (TI-RW) on 600 participants from Nyanza and Kayonza districts, shows that low prices and unfriendly value chain cripple smallholder farmers.
Only a few are invited to assist at the validation processes of price regulation set by external stakeholders (who barely know the cost of farming) and the decisions that are taken do not cater for their interest.
Nearly 70 per cent of farmers prepare and submit their Performance Contracts (Imihigo) to the district and out of them around 80 per cent are satisfied with the extent of their involvement.
The study findings were presented this Wednesday, December 11, at Ubumwe Grande Hotel, Kigali.
TI-RW recommends the government to act in the farmers’ favour in order to sustain agriculture, “the backbone of our country’s economy”.
“There is a need for advocacy even though we know that prices are sometimes set by the market, but the government is responsible to support farmers. If they stop growing crops [due to losses], we are all gone,” cautioned Appolinaire Mupiganyi, Executive Secretary Transparency International.
Before setting prices, the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources and other stakeholders calculate the work value and expenses made by farmers but according to the ministry, lack of information regarding farmers’ activity records may affect the decisions.
“It seems a challenge to set perfect prices when farmers do not have their activity logs. We usually depend on that information,” explained Octave Semwaga, the Director-General of Strategic Planning and Programmes Coordination, MINAGRI.
For a sustainable solution to activity recording, Semwaga advises farmers to use Nkunganire technology through which “a cooperative can document their work, the quantity of harvest or expenses on fertilizers.”
The technology uses mobile phones and is being spread among smallholder farmers.
It enables them to record their activities and calculate the cost of their work and profit.
The data can also be used by financial institutions in loan issuance.