May 28, 2024

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Empowering Young People in Agriculture: The Success of the Rural Youth Employment Support Project (R-YES)

Munyabugingo Sylvere, a farmer in Mukarange Sector, Kayonza District

By Kanamugira Emmanuel

 Young people who have been empowered through the Rural Youth Employment Support Project (R-YES) have confirmed agriculture and livestock value chain sector should not be underestimated because once taken seriously, is more profitable.

R-YES project is a 5-year project (2020-2024) whose goal was to contribute to sustainable employment and income generating opportunities for 3,000 youth in agriculture related activities in Rwanda through an integrated agriculture hub. Funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and Visa Foundation.

The project is implemented in Rwanda by Kilimo Trust in partnership with Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum (RYAF), Rwanda Polytechnic through its Integrated Polytechnic Regional Colleges (IPRCSs), Rwanda TVET Board (RTB) through its TVETs and Agribusiness Industries as Centers of Capacity Building and Employment.

Munyabugingo Sylvere, is among the beneficiaries of R-YES capacity building program for three months and one month of internship.

He has been trained from IPRC Gishari and equipped with skills in irrigation and drainage in 2021.

 This young farmer who has been involved in vegetables and fruits production in Mukarange Sector, Kayonza District in Eastern Province, says he shifted from traditional agriculture to business-oriented work.

Munyabugingo Sylvere, a farmer in Mukarange Sector, Kayonza District

He focuses on vegetables like carrots, French beans, eggplants, and fruits that include passion fruits.

He said, “After having been trained, I realized that by farming on a large scale, taking care of the crops and irrigating during the dry season, a farmer can have a higher yield.”

From the resources he mobilized from his farming activities, now he managed to buy a motorbike, a plot in city of Kayonza, expand his plantation, among others.

He has employed six permanent workers and some 15 casual ones who work in his plantations where he can earn Rwf3, 000,000 a year.

 “If you invest in farming and take care of it, it pays off. To those who despise this sector, I would advise them to value it. Running away looking for a job is not the most important but I urge them to delve into agriculture because there is money there”, he emphasized.

Mukafideli Emelise (left) and Alliance Umutoni (right) standing near the green house they are using in tomato farming in Musanze District

Mukafideli Emeline and her colleague, Alliance Umutoni serve as an example of ladies engaged in agriculture at a younger age. They are involved in tomato production in Kimonyi Sector, Musanze District, Northern Province. The two ladies started during the covid-19 pandemic and now they are at a good stage, according to them.

“We grow tomatoes and add value to the production so that it can be stored for a long time. We grind them and make tomato powder and tomato paste. We have got a support of a green house after having trained in IPRC Musanze and this facility helps us much in our daily activities”, Emeline noted.

“The tomatoes we grow in the greenhouse reach the harvesting time after three months. At the harvesting stage, every week we get 500 kilos, and we spend three weeks harvesting. A kilo sells for Rwf700. We get much money. We are no longer dependent to anybody for our needs. As young ladies, we want to propose this kind of work to our young mates. We know the value of farming even if others don’t”, Umutoni added.

A large capital remains the big challenge

Migabo Eric, working in Nasho Sector, Kirehe District, Eastern Province is another beneficiary of R-YES project.

He is involved in making incubator machines, hatching eggs, producing chicks and animal feed manufacturing in partnership with his neighbor.

One incubator can take an investment of over Rwf 700,000 and sells it for Rwf2 million. They have made about 20 incubators.

Migabo Eric, working in Nasho Sector, Kirehe District, Eastern Province, sharing his journey of entrepreneurship

“The change we have seen is evident because the life we were living before we started working has also changed. My colleague and I started saving money that will help us build a small animal feed factory in the near future. The challenge we face is the limited capital, once increased, we will be able to expand the activities,” Migabo said.

Mukeshimana Joel, Veterinary of Nasho Sector in Kirehe District, praised the contribution of these young men in helping the youth to gain knowledge in animal husbandry.

“Here in this sector we have a school of agriculture and animal husbandry, there are many students who come to apply for internship. These young men are among those who help us so that the students get knowledge about making these machines that produce chicks, raising them, being aware of the feeds they need from day one until it is time to sell them.” Mukeshimana said.

Andrew Gashayija, Kilimo Trust’s coordinator of the R-YES project, praised the level of achievements by the beneficiaries of the project though it is clear that they need more support.

“There is hope that if young people are supported and given the skills they need in the labor market, they can build their capacity and benefit others. We are looking at how we can help them in terms of standardization in collaboration with the relevant institutions and help them organize their projects so that they can expand their activities and learn how to manage employees and labor laws.” Gashayija assured.

Migabo makes egg incubators and produces chicks

The R-YES project has so far benefited over 2,000 youth aged 18-30 years. Indirectly, it will benefit 1,800 youth who will acquire meaningful jobs through established agribusiness and at least 20,000 smallholder farmers.

The target employment opportunities include vegetable production and processing, milk handling and processing, refrigeration and cold chain management, operation and Maintenance of agro-processing machinery, meat handling and processing, operations and processing of farm tractors and machinery, forage production and marketing, animal feed production, operation and maintenance of field irrigation and poultry farming.

The 16 districts that have been selected as primary focus include Gicumbi, Rulindo and Musanze in Northern Province; Nyabihu, Rubavu and Rusizi in Western Province; Nyanza, Ruhango, Gisagara, Kamonyi and Huye in Southern Province, and Nyagatare, Kayonza, Rwamagana, Ngoma and Bugesera in Eastern Province.

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