African Development Bank approves $343,000 to enhance honey production in Rwanda

The African Development Bank, in partnership with the Organisation pour la Promotion de la Contribution Active de la Femme Rwandaise au Developpement (SERUKA) – a national women’s organization focusing on women’s economic empowerment in Rwanda –has launched the Rwanda Honey Value Chain Project, which aims to enhance honey production in the country.

The African Development Bank has approved a grant of approximately US $343,000 (280 million Rwandan Francs) to implement the project. The project will work directly with grassroots businesses. The implementing agency, SERUKA, is a reputable non-governmental organization with a sound track record in supporting grassroots economic empowerment initiatives in Rwanda.

The event was attended by representatives from the Rwanda Agriculture Board, the Rwanda Governance Board, the President of the Board, senior government officials, representatives of SERUKA, representatives of beekeepers’ cooperatives and associations, as well as private-sector players in the honey value chain.

The overall goal of the Rwanda Honey Value Chain Project is to enhance the capacity of honey production cooperatives to access formal markets. The project targets 1,000 beneficiaries in Rulindo District, 80% of whom are women. It will support the targeted cooperatives through provision of simple equipment to improve production; training in honey production in accordance with the Apiary Code; and in basic business skills. It will also rehabilitate the Murambi Honey Collection Centre in order to meet certification requirements of the Rwanda Standards Board.

“Agriculture is one of the sectors identified by the Rwandan Government to drive growth. In line with this, the Rwanda Agriculture Board is promoting the apiary sub-sector – including bee and bee products, and silkworm production under the category of commercial insects. This project will also support women’s empowerment in the apiary sub-sector by effectively participating in the value chain,” said Halima Hashi, Principal Country Program Officer at the Bank’s Country Office in Rwanda.

The project will also provide candle-making equipment to enable the Murambi Honey Collection Centre add value to the by-products. SERUKA will also facilitate linkages between the Honey Collection Centre and established retail chains as well as honey processors and exporters.

The AfDB grant is provided through the Africa Trade Fund (AfTRA), which was established in March 2012 with $15 million Cdn. seed fund from the Canadian Government. The Bank aims to expand AfTRA into the biggest trade facility in Africa.

This grant is complementary to the Bank’s other lending operations to support the Government of Rwanda (GoR) to achieve its Vision 2020 objectives. The Bank has an active portfolio of 18 operations in Rwanda with a total commitment of US $649 million covering both the public and private sector.

This project is in line with the Bank’s High 5 priority areas, particularly ‘Feed Africa’, which seeks to unlock the potential of agriculture in improving the lives of African people.

The Bank received strong endorsement from the Rwanda Governance Board, Rwanda Agriculture Board and Rulindo District Assembly, recommending SERUKA as a suitable implementing agency for this project. To ensure coherence with Government plans, the project will also have a Steering Committee comprising all key Ministries, Departments and Agencies as well as representatives from the private sector.

“The project is going to boost our incomes as beekeepers in the region as we will have increased production of honey,” said Rwabuhungu Venant, President of the Murambi Honey Collections Centre. “It will also equip us to bypass intermediaries and interact directly with the external market in addition to enabling us to produce multiple other honey-based products such as candles and wax.”

Niwemfura Odette, President of one of the beekeepers cooperatives in Murambi and a widow with four children, stressed how the project would increase the capacity of her members to acquire additional beehives.

“We have high expectations,” she said.

Hashi described the honey value chain project as a testament to the Bank’s excellent partnership with the Government of Rwanda. It is also hoped that this pilot project will provide useful lessons to all stakeholders to support women’s empowerment through trade.

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