Emmanuel Ntawiha is the chairman of KOKIKA, a cooperative in the Mudende sector in Rwanda’s Rubavu district. The cooperative, which focuses mainly on growing potatoes, helps members grow and collect the harvests. Besides potatoes, several vegetables such as onions and carrots are also grown, as well as peas and beans. This is done to have other sources of income and crop rotation. With the support of Agriterra, KOKIKA has made several achievements to be proud of.
Emmanuel, himself a farmer of potatoes among others, started working in the sector in 1999 and has been active for KOKIKA since 2016. With Agriterra’s support, the cooperative has managed to make great progress. “We used to face problems like low potato yields due to lack of good farming practices”, Emmanuel explains. There were also problems with organisation and financing within the cooperative. KOKIKA also saw, however, that there were many opportunities that they could make use of. Their location was an important one: right where there is volcanic soil, which is excellent for growing potatoes and horticulture crops.
Together with Agriterra’s help, the cooperative has managed to address the existing problems and to turn the situation around. This process of improvement included advisory service and several training sessions. On a regular basis, KOKIKA and Agriterra work on action plans that focus on improving the governance, finance and cooperative development of the KOKIKA cooperation. Emmanuel explains that the cooperative is happy to have such improved knowledge of the potato production, as well as for instance using quick book software for producing financial reports.
The efforts have created results to be proud of. Since the start, the harvest per hectare has grown considerably: from around 8 to 10 tonnes per hectare to more than 22 tonnes per hectare, Emmanuel explains. “Partnering with Agriterra was the right choice for us because of their expertise. We have grown by more than 100 members and are seeing a 30 per cent increase in income”, the chairmen says. He adds that the cooperative prides itself on interacting with experts from different countries, allowing them to contribute to the rural community in the region. They look forward to more growth, for instance through the building of a facility for storing onions and to become a true hub for their members in the potato production industry.