The Inclusive Trading Initiative (ITI) Foundation is already for six years active in East Rwanda. In the past 3 years (2019-2021) ITI has trained approximately 1,000 farmers to improve their farming methods and business practices. Through higher purchase price and selection of the right crops the farmers are now earning a decent income. Besides that through improving their farming method the farmers are less influenced by climate change. The program is growing and has more potential. This has led to the decision to further scale up and include farmers in neighboring communities to become part of this program. That is fantastic news ….!
It is a unique program with a focus on poor farmers. Rwanda is relatively small and the population is density, resulting in a situation a farmer has an average of 0.3 hectares of land available to earn the family income. Due to the changing climate, farmers are faced with additional challenges. In recent years, rainfall patterns have been difficult to predict and shifted. It is therefore not surprising that 70% of the rural population lives below the poverty line. This means that these people earn less than $1.60 per day.
The ITI approach
The experience that Inclusive Trading Initiative has already gained since 2017 has translated into an approach that focuses on three core elements:
Cultivation techniques: for the farmer, a fertile soil that can absorb water well is the basis or foundation necessary to grow crops successfully. By applying a combination of crops (biodiversity), the farmer achieves several advantages. Not only does he spread his risks, but he also ensures the soil is not depleted which is often the case by mono cropping. By covering the soil with a thick layer of organic material, moisture evaporates more difficultly and the soil is better moistened when it rains. The farmer is also trained in the use of good seeds and seedlings, the use of compost and how diseases can be prevented and controlled naturally.
Organizational improvement: the program provides for two levels of organizational improvement. First, at the individual farmer level by developing a good business plan and second, at the community level by acting together within a cooperative. This allows farmers to gain a better market position but also to learn a lot from each other and thus strengthen each other.
Market position: as ITI, we help farmers market their crops. In the areas where ITI works, we focus on growing bananas (matoki) and chilli peppers. The banana trees provide a lot of shade and retain a lot of moisture; an ideal nutritional environment for the chilli peppers that grow among the banana trees! The market for matoki is huge in Rwanda because it is widely used in everyday food. The chilli peppers are bought from the farmers and marketed in Europe by a specially created company, Spices Rwanda ltd.
‘When the project started I had a dream that the program would face difficulties in the beginning but would eventually have impact on the lives of many. Recently I realized that this was not just an ordinary dream!’ – Ben, manager of the agricultural program in Rwanda.
Currently, ITI works with about 1,000 farmers divided into four cooperatives. The success of the farmers is also attracting others to become active in the program. To expand the program, ITI wants to grow to a group of 2,000 farmers active in growing chilli peppers and matoki bananas over the next 2 years. With this project, the farmers will be able to quadruple their income, thus structurally lifting them out of poverty.
The start-up of the program was difficult the cultivation only got off the ground with difficulty. Now we are 3 years on and farmers are seeing how this program is changing their lives and more and more farmers are joining.
This project has already proven to be successful in the past few years and would like to build on the success by expanding the number of farmers to a total of 2,000 farmers participating in this program. A detailed project budget is available and is made up of the following main components:
To realize the above activities, a one-time donation of €150,000 is needed. Farmers who are trained can then continue independently to further develop their farming business. This means only € 150 per farmer!
Make a difference!
MissionInvest has already realized €125,000 for this project. We are now actively looking to realize the remaining €25,000 before April 2023, because of the upcoming harvest season. In addition to financial contribution, there is also ample opportunity to visit the project and/or participate in the further development of the project. Does this beautiful project appeal to you? We look forward to receiving your response!