This presentation was shared by Dr. Charles Murekezi at the Rwanda Postharvest Conference on June 6, 2019 which boasted presentations about postharvest solutions, horticulture's potential to provide a pathway out of poverty, the intersection of horticulture and nutrition and lighting talks by a frenchbean exporter and entrepenuer who were supported by the Horticulture Innovation Lab project "Reducing postharvest losses in Rwanda." Murekezi 's introductory presentation highlights the project's high-level achievements. He serves as the Director General of Agriculture Development, MINAGRI.
"Reducing postharvest losses in Rwanda" was implemented by the University of Rwanda, Rwanda Agriculture Board, National Agriculture Development Export Board and Agribusiness Associates. The project created three Postharvest Training and Services centers located in Mulindi, Rubona and Bosogo and provided training to 868 trainers and 60 cold room technical training participants. It hosted 1,753 Postharvest Awareness Demonstrations and workshops and helped 91 University of Rwanda students gain research experience. Thus, "Reducing postharvest losses in Rwanda" has paved the way for farmers to start using crates, cold rooms, the Zero Energy Cool Chamber (ZECC), DryCards and field shades.
Below are the the individual highlights of each organization that helped to implement the project:
Rwanda Agricultural Board:
- Trained cooperatives, district agronomists and RAB extension officers to lead postharvest management trainings for farmers
- Conducted a pesticides residue study
- Created a small scale processing booklet to support processors
National Agricultural Development Export Board:
- Increased adoption of crates, harvesting aprons and field shades
- Engaged food science graduates to work as farmer facilitators for different cooperatives
- Worked with traders to increase postharvest awareness
University of Rwanda Highlights:
- Opened a new sensory and processing lab
- Developed a new master's program in Horticulture
- Students conducted adaptive research on the efficacy of using appropriate postharvest handling technologies and their cost benefit, effect of using different storage and processing methods on nutritional contents and shelf life.
Agribusiness Associates Highlights:
- Trained 121 budding entrepreneurs
- Supported 12 postharvest entrepreneurs through grants and hand-holding
- Created six tutorial videos and television shows
- Networked with different partners for a future government project and donor funded project creating a Horticulture Federation and Youth organization (RYAF, HORECO and YEAN)
The government of Rwanda through Minecofin has funded a five year project for technology development for enhancement of food safety and value addition in agriculture including fruit and vegetables.
All three Postharvest Training and Services Centers will continue operating with their institution's support. The University of Rwanda is starting a new Center of Food Security and Nutrition.
Strategies for the project's success:
The project team introduced postharvest interventions within the market system, involved different types of in-country partners and created partnerships with early adopters. It increased adoption rates and built capacity by showing farmers the benefits of interventions on the field, created partnerships with early adopters and catalyzed entrepreneurship. Ultimately, delivering valued results.