The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has been implementing the project titled “Rwanda Dairy Development Project (RDDP)” since 2017, to contribute to pro-poor economic growth and improve livelihoods of resource-poor rural households. The project is targeting at least 100 000 rural farmers, of whom 80 000 are involved in dairy farming.
The children at Muhororo Elementary School in the District of Huye are among the 20,396 pupils who benefited from RDDP’s efforts to improve the distribution of milk under the One Cup of Milk per Child Programme.
The Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) started implementing the programme in May 2010, distributing high-quality milk to pupils twice a week. To improve the efficiency and effectiveness of how milk is distributed, RDDP tested alternative solutions, notably purchasing pasteurized milk from local processors and encouraging parents to contribute, through the introduction of a cost-sharing arrangement. These solutions have significantly reduced the cost supported by the government to buy milk and increase the overall outreach of the One Cup of Milk per Child Programme.
The improvements in the distribution of milk achieved under RDDP have already generated significant impacts on children. At Muhororo school, attendance increased from 90 to 97 percent; drop-out students returned, and the number of students attending the nursery school rose from 37 to 52.
Improving the nutrition of Rwandan children is one of the major goals of RDDP. Almost 38 percent of children under five are still chronically malnourished, with very high stunting rates in around a third of the country.
Improving nutrition levels brings multiple challenges, notably in terms of limited knowledge of basic nutritional requirements and inadequate food consumption patterns. Agriculture in general, and dairy in particular, have an essential role to play in overcoming chronic malnutrition by enabling rural households to improve food systems and the quality and quantity of their diets.
Reducing food losses through improved post-harvest management
Reducing losses is just as important as improving yields, especially in the context of a changing and more uncertain climate. IFAD through the “Climate-Resilient Post-Harvest and Agribusiness Support Project (PASP)” is promoting the development of inclusive business activities for maize, beans, Irish potato and cassava. The goal of PASP is to alleviate poverty, increase the income of smallholder farmers and contribute to overall economic development. Since the start of the project in 2014, it has already increased the level of climate resilience of over 185 000 smallholder farmers, through a combination of training, coaching and investments in climate-resilient equipment and infrastructure. The project is partnering with small and medium-size enterprises through the public-private-producer partnership (4Ps) approach, and has managed to leverage over US$5.6 million from the private and the financial sectors.
Zainab is the president of Kabiyaki, a cooperative operating in the Kamonyi district, southern Rwanda. PASP supported her cooperative in building an improved maize drying ground equipped with masonry boreholes for water harvesting. The new drying facility is made of metal and has a much larger capacity than the older timber structure. Thanks to this investment, all cooperative members are now able to dry their produce to acceptable moisture levels, which is translating into reduced post-harvest losses and limited aflatoxin contamination.