My name is Fabrice Niyonkuru. I am from Rwanda, Kigali. I have a bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness from the University of Rwanda, College of Agriculture, Animal Science, and Veterinary Medicine in 2017. After my graduation, the sole question was: What is the next step? The answer was: Look for professional internship first!
Have you started your career development by looking for internships? For me, I looked for it several times, but failed and I felt a bit nervous! I really wanted to develop my career in something thing that I like most: Working with smallholder farmers. One day I woke up as usual, but I ended my day with different feelings. I was a lucky man that day, because I got an internship at Agriterra! The day I signed my internship contract will be one of those days I will never forget in my career!
“Study what you love and intern in what you want to do”.
It all started in October 2019 with a new but interesting assignment: Scopings and assessments! You cannot start doing a scoping and assessment, if you are not introduced to both tools! The Agriterra team that I joined was very charming and ready to support so that I can get started. Few days after understanding what scoping and assessment is all about, I started scopings and assessments of cooperatives to be supported under HortInvest. The latter is a horticultural development project implemented by 5 organisations (SNV, Agriterra, IDH, Holland Green Tech and Wageningen University), a consortium led by SNV. HortInvest targets horticultural cooperatives from North-Western of Rwanda. After six months working as intern, I learned a lot about Agriterra and practical aspects on the field, where I spent most of my time working with farmers.
On 13 July 2020 another remarkable moment came! My colleague Pacifique and I got contracts as Junior Consultants, based in Muhanga District at Ingabo Syndicate offices. My assignment aims at strengthening the fruits and vegetables value chain in Muhanga, Ngororero, Rutsiro and Karongi by supporting the leading farmers and cooperative members to adopt good agricultural practices in fruits and vegetables and providing them with appropriate advisory services. Our responsibilities also include the follow-up of FFS (Farmer Field School), established by Ingabo Syndicate (a farmers Organisation and client of Agriterra), as well as assisting in the establishment of other new FFS focusing mainly on vegetables and fruits.
Other responsibilities include follow-up and advising cooperatives in the HortInvest project located in Muhanga, Ngororero, Rutsiro, Karongi districts; but with a particular focus on cooperatives in category 2 (small) and this was done in close collaboration with the HortInvest team.
The third responsibility is the follow up of fruit tree seedlings planted in 2019 by INGABO Syndicate. In 2019 Agriterra, in collaboration with Ingabo Syndicate, donated Fruit tree seedlings to 166 households in Songa Village, Mbare Cell, Shyogwe Sector, Muhanga District. Three types of fruit (Papaya, Mango, Orange) were given to each household, in order to increase fruit productivity and prevent malnutrition. I made several follow-ups of those seedlings, and so far, I visited 60 households.
Our observation after following-up with the agronomist of Ingabo Syndicate was that most of the papayas did not come up as expected, because they could not resist to the drought conditions. The immediate reaction was to provide the households with other papaya seedlings to replace the dried ones, with a tree tomatoes seedling per household. The follow-up and advices on this will continue.
Regarding the follow up of FFS (Farmer Field school), in collaboration with the Agronomist of Ingabo Syndicate, we are working on the FFS Model, which explains how Ingabo Syndicate can set up FFS on a sustainable basis. The FFS of Onions is now being set up in collaboration with Ingabo syndicate, where up to 11 farmers are currently learning on it.
With close collaboration with Agriterra HortInvest team, I provide business and agronomic advisory services to category 2 cooperatives in Muhanga. My portfolio includes also two category 1 HortInvest cooperatives. During the past months, we have established three vegetable demonstration plots cooperatives of eggplants, sweet pepper and beetroots with cooperatives in category 2, namely Inganzo Cyeza and Abishyizehamwe Kiyumba.
So far the achievements are promising. Farmers are adopting vegetable GAP and learning from set FFS. The FFS model we are currently developing will allow more farmer field schools to be established and more farmers to learn from them. We will keep following-up on fruit tree seedling provided to households, to ensure their successful maturity this time around.
Farmers need support now more than ever, especially after the impact that Covid-19 had on the business activities mainly the lack of market during the lockdown and the price drop for horticulture products during and after the lockdown period. But there is still hope that, together with the farmers, we will overcome and go back to normal activities, as they are still motivated to grow more vegetables and feed our families.
Having given the opportunity of doing what I love has contributed a lot to my carreer development, I am happy with the team I am working with and feeling confident with what I am doing with farmers. Vive farmer organisations! Vive Agriterra!