Traditionally, Rwandese farmers and traders from Kinigi section used to sell their produce based on a fixed system of estimation, rigidly controlled by the traders. Irish Potatoes are a major source of income for both traders and farmers, but farmers were always incurring losses since traders’ estimates were based on the weight of a full sack at 110 Kg.
This continued until Farm Concern International (FCI) under the Rwanda Multi-Value Chain & Enterprise Development programme funded by World Vision Rwanda began working with farmers to sort and grade the potatoes according to size and quality. Moreover, the training involved weighing the bags on calibrated scales and creating bulking centres that also act as information centres.
When FCI came into the area, Mrs. Jaqueline Kabanza, an irish potato farmer, was reluctant to join a Commercial Village. Demoralised by the trading system, this widow had gotten used to exploitation by the traders until she started paying more attention to information being given at the bulking centres.
One day, she decided to visit a bulking centre to have her produce weighed. The total weight of her 10 sacks of onions was 1,310 kgs compared to her estimation of 1,100kgs.She sold her produce at RWF 131,000 (USD 219.8) instead of RWF 110,000 (USD 184.6) saving her RWF 21,000 (USD 35.2). As a result of that successful venture, she joined the commercial village. An evaluation conducted by FCI IN September 2011 indicated that farmers in the Commercial Producer Group were earning RWF 520,200 (USD 871) in one week.
FCI VISION : Commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond