Smallholder farmers in the Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Food Security Project (SAIP) intervention sites across the country have started reaping big from commercial agriculture; this is after SAIP supported them to shift from subsistence to commercial farming.
SAIP has embarked on supporting and encouraging farmers to give more importance to agriculture most especially focusing more on commercial agriculture.
“Before SAIP intervention in our area, we used to cultivate only for home-consumption because we gave little importance to commercial farming. But, today SAIP has mobilized and supported us to shift to commercial agriculture,” said Dancila Mukandayisenga, president of GIKADINI cooperative in Kayonza SAIP site.
She said that SAIP supported farmers with greenhouse structures and trained on how cultivate in the greenhouse and as well as its maintenance which enabled them to cultivate high value crops within the greenhouse structure.
“We have since embarked on commercial farming by cultivating bell peppers and tomatoes on rotational basis in a greenhouse, because we are sure of the better and increased yield. This has become our cash cow as a cooperative,” added Mukandayisenga.
SAIP has put much emphasis in supporting smallholder farmers towards improving food security, market access and household incomes in its areas of intervention across the country.
Improved agricultural practical trainings delivered by SAIP are helping smallholder farmers in the Project sites to adopt new practices, increase their productivity and become more profitable.
“Today commercial farming is gradually picking up in our area following the support we received and continue to receive from the Project. I now produce for markets because I have shifted from subsistence to commercial agriculture,” said Leoncia Niyonsaba, one of the farmers in SAIP site in Mugera Cell, Gatsibo Sector, Gatsibo District.
She added that SAIP supported her and fellow farmers to shift from subsistence to a more modern commercialized agriculture through providing them with irrigation systems, improved farm inputs, post harvest storage facilities and as well connecting them to potential markets for their yield.
According to farmers, SAIP supported them to access potential markets for their produce through contract farming which has motivated them to focus more on commercial agriculture.
SAIP has enhanced the development of sustainable market linkages and value addition, through increased performance and commercialization of selected value chains; vegetables and fruits for domestic, regional and international markets, maize for domestic and regional markets, Irish potatoes for domestic and regional markets while beans for domestic markets.
The project is also boosting agricultural productivity, with much of the emphasis on commercialising agriculture using modern inputs and encouraging the integration of smallholders into agricultural value chains, particularly those producing for export markets.
Producing for export markets means that the farmers will generate more income, hence spend more in the country’s economic growth, creating jobs, and more demand for agricultural goods.
The project supports farmers to increase crop yields through capacity building training, agribusiness skills, financial literacy, and agronomy. Farmers also receive agriculture inputs, like seed and fertilizer, and services including soil testing and agronomic support.
The farmers then implement the lessons from the training and use the inputs to grow their crops. Once harvested, the farmers are linked to better markets with higher prices.
SAIP targets to increase agricultural productivity, market access, and food security of the targeted beneficiaries in the project intervention areas.