Release: InspiraFarms delivers a multi-unit refrigerated storage project in Rwanda
InspiraFarms, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture of Rwanda, delivers a multi-unit refrigerated storage project, benefiting more than 100,000 smallholder farmers.
Rwanda, November 2018 – Looking at the mash lands of Muyanza, Munyabuhoro, Jean-Bosco, a farmer and vice president of ‘Dukunde Umurimo Cooperative’, looks optimistic. As one of the many Rwandan smallholder farmers, he grows crops just to feed himself and his family, but soon this will change, with a tangible opportunity for increasing their production and profit.
“We are now starting to farm for the ready market but we´re not sure if our produce will get to the market. We are used to doing domestic farming and our produce often ends up spoiling because we did not have a storing place” Jean-Bosco said. “Now we have this cold room which will help in conserving our harvest and even in the dry season we will be farming as it’s going to be commercial farming.”
In a country such as Rwanda, where agriculture is the backbone of the economy and food security relies on local production, storage for major staple crops is crucial. Postharvest commodity losses are particularly high, reaching 50% through the entire post-harvest chain before reaching the consumer.
Attacking the root causes of postharvest loss can contribute significantly to improving the lives of millions of Rwandan farmers. By facilitating the use of first-mile distribution refrigerated storage for small-scale farmers, there could be a reduction of up to 40% on farm crop loss.
Extending the cold chain to remote rural areas is a strategy implemented by the Rwandan Government. Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture, through the RSSP (Rural Sector Support Program), with investment from the World Bank, and in response to the “Million Tons of Cold Storage in Africa” initiative, is committed to the development of innovative supply chains and energy efficient cold storage systems. The system will give an active role to farmers’ cooperatives in managing refrigerated storage facilities placed in different districts of rural Rwanda, and will facilitate farmers’ connections to commercial markets and direct linkages with food and export markets.
In the third quarter of 2018, InspiraFarms commissioned ten modular, solar-powered Food Processing and Refrigerated Storage Facilities in six districts across four out of the five provinces of Rwanda. Each facility has a total area of 150 square meters that includes cold storage space, a processing area, an aggregation area, administrative and hygiene spaces, all running completely off-grid and in compliance with food safety standards.
Samuel Nisyinga of RSSP says “The cold storage and processing facilities will help farmers to meet the processing and storage standards for export markets. Through this project, farmers who are organized in cooperative societies will have full access to the cold storage facilities”.
The facilities are strategically located in Rulindo, Nyanza, Gatsibo, Ngoma, Rwamagana and Karongi districts, providing over 100,000 smallholder farmers in the first mile of distribution with access to cold chain. Currently, farmers are starting to prepare themselves for this new phase by orienting their production of high-value crops for both local and export markets.
Dkunde Umurimo is one such cooperative in Muyanza region, Rulindo District, which will run one of the InspiraFarms facilities. With 267 members and counting, farmers are preparing to plant fruits and vegetables, with flowers already under trial as well as plans for additional new crops like stevia.
“We intend to use the cold storages in groups belonging to cooperatives. Each farmer group will take turns to use the storage when they harvest their produce” says one of the farmers of Dkunde Cooperative.
The eagerness of the farmers to start using the cold storage facilities is evident. In partnership with the local government and private investors, these farmers will be collectively trained on production at the InspiraFarms facilities.