Kigali, 10th June 2022: KOABIGA Farmers’ Cooperative which operates in Nyagisenyi-Rufigiza marshland in Gasabo District has joined forces with the Rwanda TVET Board to help the cooperative members increase their skills in doing professional and productive farming.
The Cooperative, which is known for its variety of vegetables, says that the vision is for the Cooperative to reach the level of becoming a recognized farmer School that teaches other farmers how to practice professional agriculture that increases productivity and satisfies the market.
The joint professional training for farmers in KOABIGA Cooperative will last for three months and it is hoped that the farmers will complete the training with sufficient agricultural knowledge.
Trainees include those who have been able to study but later dropped due to various reasons, ordinary farmers and those who have been able to graduate from Secondary School and decided to join agriculture as a source of the income to support their families.
In an interview with Mr. NDAGIJIMANA Emmanuel, President of KOABIGA Cooperative, he said, “KOABIGA is still in its initial stage but has a big vision.”
He further added that they want to do modern agriculture and now in collaboration with the Rwanda TVET Board they have started a partnership to provide farmers with advanced knowledge in practicing improved agriculture.
“We plan to have each of these trainees go to teach the group and individually have a farming plot to implement the knowledge gained so that we will be able to monitor each farmer and grade him/her based on the quality and quantity of the harvest” Mr. Ndagijimana revealed.
The idea of training these farmers came after the Cooperative became a merger of various cooperatives and it was clear that some of the cooperatives in KOABIGA did not have enough knowledge where some were cultivating in disorder, some without markets and other problems that were undermining their harvests.
Mr Ndagijimana said: “We sat and thought about how to get out of the messy agriculture and find solutions to all problems that were hindering our work.”
“From that time we gave ourselves a vision and also decided to become knowledge based farmers.” He added.
Mr. NDAHAYO Longin, one of the farmers who are pursuing the training/course, said that these courses are important because there is a lot of change in agriculture and therefore the knowledge gained will also help them to stay at the forefront in achieving adequate and quality produce.
“From what we have learned so far, we found that there were things that we were doing differently, especially when it came to the use of manure and chemical fertilizers,” he said.
“We have found that there are some things that we need to improve because of the lessons we have already learned,” he added.
MUKANKUSI Antoinette, one of the women farmers of KOABIGA Cooperative who is following the three-month course, also said that the knowledge gained will take them to another level in agriculture.
For her “these lessons are going to help us improve our agriculture.”
Mukankusi continues, “Now we know that one can cultivate with manure, we know the amount of manure we should use and the chemical fertilizers we should use for seeding and when we should use it after the seeds start to grow higher. Once we will be able to correctly use acquired knowledge we will be able to develop our families and the country as a whole”
“We are thankful to the Unity Government for its commitment to help the farmers. Of course some of us are not educated to sit in the offices. However, the Government provides us with wetlands to cultivate and this protects us from child malnutrition, enables us to have a balanced diet and from that again, we do not delay the government’s development because we are active farmers” Mukankusi added.
Ms. Umuhire Marie Louise, one of the instructors for the farmers explained that some of the plants they will focus on are the ones they grow such as tomatoes, Green beans, peas, onions, cabbages, garden eggs, cucumber and other vegetables
“But some of the farmers wanted us to learn how to grow chilli pepper and all the other crops that they would like to learn how to grow.” She said,
She explained that the curriculum which is being used to teach these farmers is based on research and is in accordance with the requirements of the Rwanda TVET Board.
“We have prepared this manual with the help of books from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources and other books from agricultural companies that teach farmers how to cultivate effectively,” Ms. Umuhire said.
“These manuals are of good quality because you can find them in the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resource,” Ms. Umuhire assures.
The Kinyinya Sector Administration, which is home to the Cooperative, said the courses are important in terms of the country’s goals, especially in the field of Agriculture.
Mr. Jimmy Frank Mugabineza, Agronomist of Kinyinya Sector, said: “Our mission is to sensitize farmers to grow their crops, from traditional agriculture to modern agriculture, to help them get a variety of crops to grow and to provide them with better seeds and fertilizers.”
He added the sector is working with KOABIGA Farmers to increase productivity and the result of these courses will lead to the behaviour change among the farmers in different zones.
“Such training courses are going to help them to boost productivity,” he said.
Initially, about 30 farmers will be trained and each farmer is expected to gain the skills that will enable him/her to make a difference in making agriculture more efficient and productive.774