Changing Male Perception towards Domestic Duties

Changing Male Perception towards Domestic Duties

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Although Rwanda has registered remarkable improvements in gender equality, some men continue to shun domestic duties as reserved for women. Those that get involved in domestic chores often end up being ridiculed by fellow males as ‘inganzwa’ (a reference to a husband who is subservient to his wife), a tendency that discourages males from supporting their wives at home. However, one farmer has vowed to change this status quo.

Elaste Mbonimpaye, (35), resides in Kabusunzu village, Isangano cell, Ndego sector in Kayonza district. He supports his wife at home but is always dismayed by the attitude of fellow males towards domestic chores. Luckily, he was selected by his community to become a male gender champion. These are groups organized by HW to mobilize males to engage in gender and nutrition-related activities. Through current community volunteers – 150 male gender champions, 150 female role models, and 100 Youth for Change, HW is mobilizing communities to adopt dietary diversity and proper nutrition. The aim is to improve the nutritional status for women and children and to increase yield and incomes for 560,000 farmers.

Elaste joined a care group in September 2018 and received training on gender equality and female empowerment with focus on equitable decision – making regarding family incomes and equal division of labor. Leading by example, he showed how this has changed his own household. That is all he needed to mobilize and train 30 farmers in his group and their spouses, who are now able to take joint decisions and divide home chores.

His wife, Nakure Médiatrice, is evidence of how increased support with childcare enabled her to have enough spare time to engage in the activities of a women savings group. She invested 40,000 RWF of her savings into a small retail shop of fresh foods and vegetables.

“I’m now closer to my children while my wife is now generating income for the family,” observed Elaste.

From the savings, they were able to acquire three additional plots of land, paid for community health insurance for the whole family, and bought scholastic materials for their children.

The family is still counting their gains. The wife has since gained confidence to make decisions at home and that has opened many windows of opportunity. She now has spare time to educate other women on how to manage domestic affairs and also takes care of herself.

Support for Agrodealers improves business and access to farm input

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Agrodealers are an essential part of the agricultural value chain system, but their business can be lucrative or daunting depending on which side of the coin you flip. Pacifique Uwayisaba, and mother of two, has experienced the downside of this. She has been an agrodealer in Ngororero District for the last 9 years since 2009, and her business first registered growth, but later slowed down, making losses due to low profits and delays in the delivery of goods.

“I had to close 20 out of my 25 outlets to cut on losses and stay afloat. I used to stock 2,500 tons per year, now this has shrunk to 700 tons,” she explained. Her woes resulted from operating in a disorganized business environment with no clear guidelines to follow.

The introduction of (APTC), Agro Processing Trust Corporation, as a one distribution agency also meant that the 100Rwf per kilogram that agrodealers gained had to reduce to 30 Rwf. The arrangement also had other side-effects. Agrodealers in a particular locality were required to wait for others to place their orders, making some run out of stock and fail to deliver on time what smallholder farmer what to buy in time for a particular season.

Pacifique Uwayisaba makes inventory of fertilizers before distribution

“My clients would find when I have run out of stock while waiting for other agrodealers to make their order to have a single delivery. This was hurting my business and I lost many clients to my rivals,” Uwayisaba observed.

Not out of options, Uwayisaba joined agrodealers being organized by Hinga Weze in ten districts of Gatsibo, Bugesera, Rutsiro, Nyabihu, Karongi, Nyamasheke, Nyamagabe, Kayonza, Ngoma, and Ngororero. With funding from USAID and Feed the Future, Hinga Weze is mobilizing Agro-Dealers to provide affordable and easily accessible inputs as one of the mechanisms to sustainably increase smallholder farmers’ income and increase the resilience of Rwanda’s agricultural and food to a changing climate.

The first step for Hinga Weze was to arrange for agrodealers to get certified. Uwayisaba has been sensitized on the 2012 Organic Law governing agrochemicals as well as the Ministerial Order of 2016 regulating agrochemicals and is now sensitizing others. So far Hinga Weze has assisted 212 agrodealers to comply with the agrochemical law out of 240 Agro-Dealers that operating in the 10 districts. Uwayisaba is among the 7 agrodealers already certificated in April 2018 by the regulating body RALIS (Rwanda Agriculture Livestock Inspection and Certification Services).

To improve on profit margin, Hinga Weze carried out an assessment on the fertilizer subsidies and pricing impact that established losses agrodealers incur in business. Lobbying on their behalf, profits on agro inputs have been revised, increasing the profit margin by 10Rwf per kg from 30Rwf francs to 40Rwf.  This includes 2Rwf for the farmer promoter.

“1 felt empowered when I was given the certificate, and this new profit margin means I can increase my annual stock up again to 1,000 tons,” observed Uwayisaba.

Hinga Weze is mobilizing agrodealers to form cooperatives, building on 30 already registered countrywide. As head of agrodealers in Ngororero, Uwayisaba is borrowing a leaf from Nyamagabe Agro-Dealers’ cooperative that now has distribution rights around the district. Her group is now requesting to have the same distribution rights, thereby increasing the profit margin by 3Rwf per kg allocated as distribution fee.  The sky is the limit for this enterprising woman.

USAID supports farmer education and community action to combat Fall Armyworm in Rwanda

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Bugesera, Karongi, Nyabihu and Ngororero districts are among the hardest-hit areas of the deadly Fall Army Worm (FAW) pest attacking maize. FAW is an invasive pest that can cause significant yield losses if not well managed. It can reproduce multiple times each year and the moth can fly up to 100 km per night. However, the pest can be controlled through use of appropriate pesticides and early detection.

Over 760 hectares have been the most impacted by FAW across three districts of Bugesera, Ngororero, Nyabihu and Karongi and farmers are feeling the effects. FAW is expected to wreak havoc if farmers don’t aren’t prepared to combat it in time. Farmers need the knowledge about the early warnings of the pest markings before it multiplies. Last year alone, 2017 FAW infested an estimated 17,521ha of maize out of over 60,000 ha in season 2018 B. Farmers were thus more than alarmed about the potential losses to their crops.

To respond to this challenge, USAID through its Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze Activity, which aims to sustainably improve agricultural productivity, increase smallholder farmers’ income and nutritional status, rapidly moved to work with stakeholders on the ground and farmers to combat FAW to reduce its destruction of yields particularly for maize in season B 2018.


Hinga Weze’s agronomist helping farmers hand-pick the Fall Armywarm in Karongi district where Hinga Weze has activities

Hinga Weze worked hard to build the capacity of key players to fight FAW through trainings on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) delivered through Farmer Field Schools and Farmer Promoters reaching over 29,000 farmers. One of these farmers, Musabimana Pilipila, 35, is a smallholder farmer in Sangati Cell, Nyabivumu Sector in Karongi District. She was among those hit-hard by the FAW. She expected the yield from her 0.4 ha to benefit her family of four children. However, FAW attacked her plantations of maize. As a participant of Hinga Weze, Pilipila has been able to access pesticides and acquire new knowledge on effective pesticide application through a local agrodealer. Her prospects seem promising as she explained that ‘’I have been able to fight FAW massively through support by accessing appropriate pesticides and modern spraying equipment, thanks to Hinga Weze staff who have been with me throughout the process’’ she says

Hinga Weze bought and distributed spraying and protective equipment (pumps and protection equipment) to all 10 districts’ intervention areas and Hinga Weze district staff continue to train farmers on how to use safe pesticides to combat FAW. Also, Hinga Weze has linked hundreds of farmers with agro-dealers for access to the pesticides of their choice. So far, 245 agro-dealers are working with Hinga Weze to provide modern affordable spraying equipment and better seeds to farmers across the 10 target districts.

Since maize is a staple food for Rwandans, Hinga Weze district staff have been supporting farmers together with district stakeholders in targeted districts to fight FAW infestation. ‘’On many occasions I am personally involved picking FAW with farmers to demonstrate the urgency of intervention to fight FAW on time’’ says the Hinga Weze agronomist of Karongi district.

Scheme Offers Rural Farmers Access to Affordable Inputs on Credit

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While agrodealers have potential to drive smallholder farming and transform agriculture, their business is often impeded by the limitations in purchasing power of their poor clientele because of low purchase power among, who are typically poor, rural farmers. The consequence has been dire on the quality of yield since most Most rural farmers are unable to access agro-chemicals and equipment, which negatively impacts the quality and size of their yields. To overcome this, agrodealers are assisting farmers to access credit.

Patricie Kantarama is an agrodealer who is changing improving farmers; experiences in Rurembo sector, Nyabihu district. To sustain her business, she needed to build client confidence among farmers and farmer promoters (FPs), who in turn support improved access to affordable products. Kantarama’s opportunity came when she was mobilized by HW to join an input credit scheme, a model that links farmers to agrodealers for business on credit. The result has been promising. She has already registered enough profits where, this season alone, she has extended credit to 42 farmers (32 males and 10 females).

Kantarama is one of the agrodealers being assisted by Hinga Weze to join the scheme. With funding USAID and Feed the Future, HW is supporting agrodealers to use the input credit scheme model where farmers access products on credit to use on credit and are and they are able to repay the loan after harvest or sale of produce. The arrangement is part of the project’s wider mandate to sustainably increase smallholder farmers’ income, improve the nutritional status of women and children, and increase the resilience of Rwanda’s agricultural and food systems to a changing climate.

Now with this possibility of accessing inputs on credit, farmers are reaping from improved yield and better the benefits of improved yields and productivity. Through the input credit scheme, a total of 1,346 farmers in four districts have accessed input with a credit value of 26.1 million RWF. In Kayonza alone, 260 farmers accessed credit worth 2.13 million RWF. In Rutsiro (KOABUNYA Cooperative farmers), 972 farmers accessed input worth 2.8 million, in RWF. In Ngororero, an aggregator. called Anias, provided input credit worth 20.6 Million RWF to 72 farmers, while an aggregator in Nyabihu, Patrice, provided with Patricie, 42 farmers were assisted to with 604,400 RWF worth of input credit.

Kantarama alone was able to supply on creditsupplied 204 KGg of maize seed, H629, 500KGkg of DAP, Urea (289.5KGkg), NPK (140KGkg), Dethane (15KGkg), Ridomil (1KGg) and Rocket (five5 liters equivalent to Rwf 604,400 RWF to farmers on credit.

“I decided to provide inputs on credit to these farmers because HW built their capacity through training on financial literacy,” stated Patricie said. One of her clients, Sebageni Tharcisse, a farmer in Rurembo sector, says he was able to acquire products on credit ranging from NPK (90 KG), Urea (45KG), Dethane (10 KG), Ridomil (KG) and Rocket – two2 bottles) worth 110,000 RWF.

“I’m happy that I don’t have to sell off my sheep to be able to pay the agrodealer, I can now pay back after harvest,” observed a visibly excited Sebageni.  With easy access to agro-inputs, farmers are set to improve their yield while agrodealers gain vital clients and market for agrochemicals.

Access to Finance Opens Opportunities for Women in Agribusinesses

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Rwanda has registered commendable expansion in the financial sector in the recent past, enabling players in the sector to grow as well. Despite this positive trend, most women continue to miss out, are excluded or underserved. Their worst ordeal is the existence of non-financial barriers like operating in rural settings, low financial literacy and bias towards women as not being bankable enough But there is now hope for women venturing in.

Phoebe Nyirafeza proudly stands at the entrance of her business shop in Karongi

Like most women, Phoebe Nyirafeza, a resident of Karongi District, has faced the lows and highs of succeeding ins usually reserved for men. Faced with the pressure of fending for the family after her husband retired in 2011, Phoebe started a small factory called DAZI that processed maize flour locally known as Kawunga. Maize is abundantly produced in Karongi and this seemed an opportunity to add value to a commodity that was readily available and had market locally She produces a mixture of porridge products, of mixed cereals and cracked corn to feed domestic animals.

However, all was not smooth since her business depended on the quality of yield and seasonal hazards, and this made high quality maize scarce. Being credit-shy worsened her situation, making it hard to raise enough capital to maintain keep her business afloat Suddenly her prominence as a shrewd business woman around Rubengera Sector where she resides started to fade as business went decreased.

“This business has been challenging because I needed money to pay suppliers and to buy the best maize grades, yet prices have shot up,” Nyirafeza says with a frown on her face. The hard fact of seeing her business worth 28 million in capita lgo down was a rude awakening, Opportunity came when Hinga Weze assessed her business, offered training on record keeping, and linked her to INKUNGA Micro- Finance that provided credit worth 106,000,000 million RWF in September2018. “From the first installment of 20 million RWF, I managed to restock raw materials and repair machines. Production has already improved.”

As a USAID/Feed the Future-funded project, HW facilitates farmers to access finance, linking them to financial service providers. This is part of its wider goal of sustainably increasing smallholder farmers’ income, improving the nutritional status of women and children, and increasing the resilience of Rwanda’s agricultural and food systems to a changing climate. Hinga Weze intends to transform 560,000 smallholder farmers in ten districts.

Phoebe Nyirafeza proudly displays her improved stock in the rented warehouse

By providing technical assistance to lenders to develop farmer-friendly loan products and build capacity for Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs), Hinga Weze has enabled agribusinesses to thrive. In Karongi alone, 155 women have been assisted to receive loans worth 127,417,000 RWF. Like Nyirafeza, they are encouraging other women in agribusiness to improve on business record keeping, apply for credit and make their businesses thrive.

USAID Agriculture Program

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The five-year, $23 million USAID Agriculture Program (2018-2023) works to accelerate the growth of agricultural sub-sectors that show strong potential to create jobs, improve incomes, and increase micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME) revenues, with particular focus on the berry, culinary herb, stone fruit, perishable vegetable, pome fruit, table grape, mandarin and nut crop value chains.

To accomplish this, the Program facilitates partnerships with public and private sector actors and provides demand-driven technical assistance to farmers, agribusinesses and MSMEs in order to address value chain gaps and advance agricultural production and processing.

The Program also contains an integrated grant component to deliver cost-share grants to producers, processors, cooperatives, service/information/extension providers and associations. These grants are designed to address identified value chain gaps and develop agricultural sub-sectors, contributing to the sustainable development of the Georgian economy.

Program Approach:

  1. Increase productivity and productive capacity: The USAID Agriculture Program uses technical assistance to develop and update business plans, financial plans and market assessments, and provides competitive cost-share grants for medium-, small- and micro-enterprises (MSMEs), including producers, processors, service providers, cooperatives and associations.
  2. Build capacity to add value: The Program improves processing, storage and other techniques by providing training to farmers on production, harvesting and post-harvest techniques; and facilitates relationships between value-adding agribusinesses and smallholder or emerging commercial farmers.
  3. Meet international standards and certifications: The Program provides cost-share grants for MSMEs, facilitating market access to new domestic buyers and international markets and training producers and MSMEs on modern production and business operations.
  4. Strengthen linkages within agricultural value chains and to new markets: The Program encourages public-private partnerships by facilitating linkages and providing support to vocational education institutions, business service providers and enterprises to improve training curricula and access to private sector-led skills development opportunities. It also assists with developing business relationships and addressing financial institutions requirements to obtain capital for further growth.
  5. Strengthen capacity of cooperatives, extension and other service providers and associations: The Program facilitates the development and capacity building of business or sector associations; trains service and information providers on topics such as teaching methods, farmer outreach models and technical skills and knowledge; and supports dialog between extension providers, educational institutions and cooperatives to coordinate efforts to increase reach and effectiveness of extension.


  1. South-East Europe Development (SEEDEV)
  2. World Food Logistics Organization (WFLO)

Farmer-to-Farmer: Southern Africa & Moldova

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The USAID-funded John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program (2018-2023) is implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA) in Southern Africa (Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and the Eastern European country of Moldova. CNFA’s current F2F program aims to connect 394 mid-to senior-level U.S. volunteer experts with farmer groups, agribusinesses, trade associations, agricultural finance providers and other agriculture sector institutions to facilitate sustainable improvements in food security and agricultural processing, production and marketing.

The F2F Program was initially authorized in the 1985 Farm Bill with the primary goal of generating sustainable, broad-based economic growth in the agricultural sector through voluntary technical assistance. A secondary goal is to increase the U.S. public’s understanding of international development issues and programs as well as international understanding of U.S.-sponsored development programs. For more information on the activities of the program worldwide, please visit


CNFA recruits highly-trained, exceptionally qualified volunteers — with years of experience in their respective fields — who offer their time and energy to provide technical assistance to farmers and entrepreneurs. Volunteers are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Volunteers should be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. See our Volunteer Page for more information on how to become a volunteer.

Program Approach:

CNFA’s approach builds on USAID’s continuous learning from the F2F program since its 1985 inception and CNFA’s decades of experience in F2F implementation. In each country, focal value chains are analyzed to identify critical leverage points for improvements in incomes and food security through volunteer technical assignments.

  1. Increase Agricultural Sector Market-Driven Productivity and Profitability: The Program promotes the adoption of innovative agricultural techniques and technologies and supports improved marketing and business skills.
  2. Improve Conservation and Sustainable Use of Environmental and Natural Resources: The Program leverages conservation agriculture and other practices to produce higher and more stable yields while reducing environmental degradation. It also focuses on efforts to control Fall Armyworm, a significant pest of diverse crops in Africa, and to mitigate aflatoxin.
  3. Expand Agricultural Sector Access to Financial Services: The Program’s efforts strengthen the financial management and business-planning skills of farmer organizations and agribusinesses.
  4. Private Sector Engagement: The Program also partners with government and private sector stakeholders and supports organizational development by building local markets and networks.


Agricultural Support to Azerbaijan Project

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The $8.5 million, four-year (2014 to 2018) Agricultural Support to Azerbaijan Project (ASAP) increased the incomes of agribusinesses and agricultural producers to accelerate the development of Azerbaijan’s non-oil economy. To accomplish this, CNFA increased access to finance using local Business Services Providers (BSPs) to grow and expand exports of agricultural entrepreneurs, promoted improved production practices through strengthened extension services, facilitated a favorable business enabling environment and expanded dialogue and the use of analytical tools and training.


ASAP was built on the successes of USAID’s support to agricultural producers and processors in Azerbaijan over the last 15 years. Various activities strengthened the ability of domestic producers to meet international quality standards, increase exports and yield better supply and domestic market demand, in turn boosting employment and incomes. ASAP targeted value chains with the highest economic potential including hazelnuts, pomegranates, orchard crops and vegetables. Activities specifically yielded these results:

  1. Increased Technology Adoption: ASAP assisted growers and processors to adopt new technologies and techniques to increase the quality and quantity of production.
  2. Supported Increased Sales: Through ASAP, CNFA facilitated increased exports and enhanced domestic marketing through more rigorous food safety systems, packing and post-harvest methods.
  3. Facilitated Business Connections: ASAP’s activities strengthened the linkages among actors in the respective value chains and fostered cooperation through strengthened industry associations.
  4. Bolstered the Quality of Services Provision: The project built the availability, quality, capacity and sustainability of BSPs and public and private extension services.

Restoring Efficiency to Agriculture Production

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The USAID/Georgia Restoring Efficiency to Agriculture Production (REAP) activity was a five-year (2013-2018), $19.5 million enterprise development activity that increased income and employment in rural areas by delivering firm-level investment and tailored technical assistance to Georgian agribusinesses. Since October 2013, REAP increased private investment and commercial finance in the agriculture sector by $37.5 million, mitigated risks for rural agribusinesses, upgraded farmers’ agricultural and technical skills and expanded commercially sustainable linkages between service providers, producers and processors.


  1. Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Development in the Agriculture Sector: By utilizing its $6 million grant fund, REAP partnered with 70 agribusinesses to launch profit centers that provide input supply, services, technical trainings and commercial markets to smallholders. REAP’s investment portfolio, consisting primarily of Farm Service Centers (FSCs) and Machinery Service Centers (MSCs), created over 2,000 new rural jobs, provided over $18 million in new cash markets, trained over 200,000 smallholders and generated new gross sales of over $182 million.
  2. Implemented Technical Assistance Program: To ensure the sustainability of REAP investments and bolster the capacity of Georgia’s agriculture sector, the activity worked closely with its partners to deliver demand-driven, customized technical assistance in collaboration with the private sector to improve competitiveness, increase sales and foster professional development. REAP also supported non-grantees—enterprises that did not meet the competitive benchmarks to receive matching grants—by providing capacity-building consulting through local BSPs and International STTA on a 50-50 cost-shared basis to increase access to funding.
  3. Focused on Gender: REAP ensured inclusive enterprise development and involved men, women and youth in its activities. All C1 grant applicants were required to present a gender integration strategy as part of their proposals. REAP expected at least 15% of grantees and 25% of trainees to be women.
  4. Improved Access to Finance: REAP stimulated affordable financing by working with both financial institutions and agribusinesses, providing technical assistance to improve supply and demand. Through business plans, agriculture lending strategies and training for loan officers, REAP increased the volume of lending to the agriculture sector.
  5. Improved Workforce Development: REAP had a robust internship program that allowed over 120 students to work in fields that support REAP’s implementation, including administration and finance, monitoring and evaluation, environment, access to finance and technical assistance. REAP also offered 11 research grants for students committed to addressing constraints faced in Georgia’s agriculture sector, including an additional nine who focused on Brown Marmorated Stinkbug (BMSB) research.
  6. Focused on the Environment: All grant applicants were visited by REAP’s Environmental Specialist and provided with environmental review checklists and guidance on environmental compliance.