February 27, 2024

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Unleashing the Potential: Trade Fair for Forest and Agroforestry Products

The Rwanda’s Ministry of Environment (MoE) in partnership with International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN Rwanda) and World Agroforestry Centre – CIFOR-ICRAF and other partners through a project entitled Transforming Eastern Province Through Adaptation (TREPA) funded by Green Climate Fund (GCF) organized the business Roundtable and Trade Fair on Wood, Tree Crop and Bee Products.

The event brought together key actors from Eastern Province who are benefiting from forests, and agroforestry through value chain on wood, honey, juice, medicines, handcrafts… as part of trade fair.

The Trade Fair provided a platform for the cooperatives (small hold farmers/ small business) and their business partners with a space to exhibit and exchange products linked to forest, wood and agroforestry and meet with financial institutions that could support the development of their value chain products. The Trade Fair took place on 1st December 2023, at Nyamata, Bugesera.

The TREPA project is currently on course to restore 60,000 hectares of drought-degraded landscapes into climate resilient ecosystems through re-forestation, agroforestry, restoration of pasturelands, and soil erosion control measures in all the seven districts of the Eastern Province namely Gatsibo, Nyagatare, Bugesera, Ngoma, Kirehe, Kayonza, and Rwamagana districts that will build resilience capacity of 75,000 smallholder farmers.

The project is also improving food security for over 120,000 households living in high risky areas, over 100,000 rural Households will access Improved Cooking Stoves, while over 260,000 people are directly benefiting from enhanced financial inclusion and access for climate resilient investments.

Mr Olivier HABIMANA, the Chief of Party of TREPA project, noted that “the objective of TREPA is to achieve a paradigm shift in land management practices in Rwanda’s Eastern Province from landscapes that are degraded, fragile and unable to sustain livelihoods in the face of climate change to restored ecosystems and landscapes through building community resilience to enhance livelihoods, food, and water security of the most vulnerable rural population.”

He addressed that TREPA has so far trained 200 cooperative members on improved honey production and value adding through wax-based products, and fostered interactions between the cooperatives and private companies through business round tables and trade honey based-products for Bee value chain development.

Mr. Habimana said, “We established both 25000 bee-forage trees of diverse species on at least 200 hectares and 10 honey and wax storage stations and associated storage facilities, and introduced 10 beehives for a significant number of beekeeping cooperatives.”

He concluded adding that “Farmers’ groups have been strengthened to adopt climate resilient land use practices with access to market and finances and enhanced climate resilience of agricultural value chains and commodities.”

Dr. Dietman Stoian, Lead Scientist, Value Chains, Private Sector Engagement and Investments for CIFOR-ICRAF, highlighted that agroforestry packages are scaled up on rain fed for improved soil and water management adding that collaboration with TREPA is critical to any successful restoration process, and must be continually fostered.

“Regreening Rwanda’s partnership-based approach holds important lessons for large-scale, for the country land restoration initiatives.” he said.

“Landscape restoration must be people driven, guided by evidence, and supported by incentives to ensure its long -term success, on how restoration starts with soil health, and how it can help communities adapt to climate change”, Dr. Dietman added.

He also revealed that there are patterns of trees on farms that helped farmers in the management of natural regeneration of timber, fruit, and fuel species as well as those contributing to the environmental services.

Beekeepers, traders, and processors acquired time to exchange experiences, challenges, and opportunities among others.

According to JMV BIZIMANA, Managing Director of Beekeeper’s Gift Ltd, a company that supply modern beekeeping equipment countrywide, “in honey value chain development, identification of existing gaps in the value chain and narrowing them down can have a profound impact in terms of increasing income for rural communities and conserving biodiversity.”

He emphasized that resident communities should be involved as partners or stakeholders to enable them safeguard the environment and ensure that it remains conducive for honey production.

“They could also provide security for apiary that includes hives and occupier bees from predators.  An apiary should be located in an area with a variety of flora, which should last all year around” He said,.

“In order to build the community’ capacity in honey production, chain supporters shall be required. They include: artisan hive makers, money-lenders and microfinance institutions. Technicians should be deployed for professional beehive management as well as quality control, processing and packaging”. He added.

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