The contribution of the small livestock industry to accelerating agricultural growth has been minimal in recent years.
This is one of the findings of the assessment of the National Agricultural Innovation System (AIS) for small livestock, which also recommended more innovation in the industry to increase the profitability of small farmers.
The findings of the Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR) were released Thursday, October 28 at a meeting of stakeholders from the agricultural sector and government, and the United Nations Food and agriculture – Rwanda Office (FAO-Rwanda).
The study focused on the pork and poultry value chains.
The industry is said to face poor breeds, rampant epidemics and high death rates.
Animal feed accounts for between 60 and 70 percent of the total expenses incurred by small livestock keepers.
“We need innovations that can help us obtain high-quality, low-cost animal feed to reduce expenses,” said Andrew Butare, president of the Rwanda Poultry Industry Association.
He also said that farmers are struggling to access the market for their eggs and meat.
Collaboration and coordination
The researchers recommended empowering and strengthening the national platform on small livestock in Rwanda.
Currently, the responsibility for small livestock is fragmented between different organizations, which creates coordination problems.
A national platform has been set up to ensure this coordination. However, he needs to become more active, according to the study.
This focuses on ensuring continuous learning and improvement of the knowledge, soft skills and practices of actors for marketing and networking capabilities.
The study indicated that the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources should integrate soft skills in all its strategic plans to ensure the sustainability of innovations in the small livestock sub-sector.
In addition, he noted that the advisory services should devote more efforts to strengthening the capacity of farmers and cooperatives in small livestock management and related business skills.
The assessment proposed the integration of agricultural innovations into all policies, strategies and programs that promote the small livestock sub-sector, in particular animal health / veterinary services, animal feed as well as transport facilities for live animals and meat.
In addition, as part of this plan, he recommended strengthening financial mechanisms that support smallholder farmers’ access to affordable finance, especially those living in remote rural areas, in order to create a working environment. conducive to vulnerable people.
Along with reducing risks in the livestock sub-sector, government and financial institutions should improve farmers’ access to insurance for agriculture and livestock.
Jean-Claude Musabyimana, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, agreed with breeders on expensive animal feed, adding that insufficient funding is also a challenge for them.
He said that it is necessary to adopt good practices and technologies to tackle these problems.
Gualbert Gbehounou, FAO Representative, said small livestock development has proven to be one of the best ways to lift people out of poverty quickly due to its short cycle.
He said improving farmers’ knowledge about production and market access helps solve much of the problem they face.