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Technology solution promises to improve potato farmer's incomes
The Ministry of Trade and Commerce’s new strategy for marketing Irish potatoes in Rwanda through potato collection centers seeks to increase smallholder farmers’ incomes by addressing challenges in selling the crop. To facilitate the implementation of these collection centers, the United States Agency for Development (USAID), through its project, Private Sector Driven Agricultural Growth (PSDAG Project), is piloting a technology solution called Farmbook, a data collection program and web app that is designed to help increase farmers’ productivity and competitiveness.
Some of the constraints faced by potato farmers include a lack of easy access to the market information needed to be competitive in selling Irish potatoes. In response, the potato collection centers have been designed to organize potato business transactions and build formal contracts between farmers, traders, and wholesalers. Farmbook will further allow for professional management of the collection centers, better business planning, and improved trading conditions, which will ultimately lead to the increase of farmers’ income.
Representatives of 6 Potato Cooperatives at the partnership agreement signing event with USAID Private Sector Driven Agricultural Growth Project on December 10, 2015
To pilot Farmbook, USAID’s PSDAG Project will partner with six potato cooperatives supporting 10 potato collection centers located in Musanze, Burera, and Nyabihu Districts and supporting 2,347 farmers.
Mugorozi Fabien, president of the CVMB Cooperative in Burera District, relayed the members’ expectation of the new system and stated, “The members are already excited that aggregation centers will help keep potato prices stable and with Farmbook, we will be able to gather a lot of information to make smart decisions.”
Rwanda Private Sector Driven Agricultural Growth (PSDAG) is a five-year (2014-2019) project funded by the United States Agency for International Development. The goal of PSDAG is to increase smallholder farmers’ incomes by promoting private sector investments and to facilitate the transformation of agriculture into a market-oriented, competitive, and high-value sector.