Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum
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COVID-19: Voices of young agripreneurs in Rwanda

The Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum (RYAF) adhered to the youth engagement initiative launched by FAO ICA programme by launching a special Youth Knowledge Exchange session on April 2, 2020 addressing the key consequences and potential implications of COVID-19 for youth-led agribusinesses. The online consultation was conducted both in English and Kinyarwanda using RYAF social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp groups.
Effects of COVID-19
RYAF members reported being affected by the lockdown strategy to contain the outbreak as follows:
Blocked access to the business sites and to services including extension, equipment, inputs and seeds
Huge post-harvest losses on produce/products that were ready for sell (e.g. chicken meat, bananas, milk, horticulture)
Limited produce harvesting for businesses targeting export markets because they have nowhere to sell and some of the needed equipment, materials and facilities are not functioning
Loss of previously negotiated prices because of falling demand, resulting in reduced revenues and earnings
Business planning affected by the uncertainty of when the pandemic will end
New agribusinesses delayed, disrupted and put on hold
Lack of financial means to keep the production running in view of the next expected harvest with high risk of produce shortage in the coming seasons
Reduced labour demand as workforce is reduced as a protection measure against the pandemic
Social insecurity due to the people who fled the towns going back to rural areas and increased thefts in the farms
Coping with the crisis
The ways young entrepreneurs are coping with these hard moments include:
Working from home using ICT infrastructure for business management (phone call, WhatsApp groups, etc.)
Depending on the value chain node operated, doing usual farm operations including planting
Reducing the number of workers to apply the 1m social distance rule
Changing market plan and planting other crops rather than letting the land idle
Using ICT and social media to get updated information on the pandemic and learn about alternative practices to get ready for being back to business
Intervention needed
RYAF put forward a proposal to set up an Emergency Fund for Youth in Agribusiness as a short to mid-term mitigation strategy for supporting youth whose fragile businesses will have been hardly hit by the pandemic. The Fund could be in the form of loans with subsidized interest rates, to facilitate reviving the value chains and help youth-led businesses gain the right pace quickly and efficiently through inputs, farm equipment, extension services, production technologies, aggregation, value addition and marketing. In the words of Jean Baptiste Hategekimana, RYAF Chairman, “Youth are already having limited capacities and options to access finances […] We hope with youth innovative capacities and with the existing and ongoing contract negotiations on good markets, this fund would be enough to help the youth being the agents of agricultural transformation”.

Read more orginal story via FAO website: http://www.fao.org/rural-employment/work-areas/youth-employment/ica-programme/rwanda/en/

From RYAF commucation Team

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