Imbuto Foundation, on June 23, awarded 15 young entrepreneurs with the most outstanding projects in the agriculture sector. Each of the 15 winners was awarded with Rwf10 million.
The awards ceremony was held at the Rwanda Institute of Conservation Agriculture (RICA) Campus in Bugesera District.
Winners were recognized through Imali Agribusiness Challenge, an initiative of Imbuto Foundation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and Friends of Imbuto.
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The winners include Agrinet Rwanda Ltd, Afri-farmers Market, Bright Future Contracting Company Ltd, Mind Valley Rwanda Ltd, G-Proud Company Ltd, Vynes Ltd, Verve Aginnovate Ltd, Smart Greenhouse Project, Agricotech Company Ltd, Igisubizo 1 Company Ltd, Agri-ThinkTank, AliFarms Group Ltd, Volcano Green Invest Ltd, Agriresearch Unguka Ltd, and Herbal Field Group Ltd.
Marie Faustine Niyomubyeyo, the co-founder of Vynes Ltd producing wine from grapes, pineapple, and banana, commended Imbuto Foundation for the initiative to support youth in agriculture.
“The support is motivating youth to create businesses in agriculture. The more we see youth succeeding in agribusiness projects, the more youth will join the agriculture sector,” she said.
She said that the company will use the cash prize to afford processing machinery and market their products as they increase both quality and quantity.
“We started the company one year ago. We have to use the funding to increase workers, production, and work with farmers who supply raw materials to us,” she said.
Patient Dukeshimana, Managing Director of Agrinet Rwanda Ltd said that the company is applying technology to boost the agriculture sector.
“For instance we will be using drones to spray agro-chemicals and apply fertilizers. It can also take photos of crops to analyze if the crop has diseases or pests and recommend how to treat them,” he said.
The Director General of Imbuto Foundation, Sandrine Umutoni said that the Imali Agribusiness Challenge aims at empowering and nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit of the youth to contribute to the government’s ambitious goal of creating 1.5 million decent and productive jobs for economic growth.
The agriculture value chain, in particular, has been identified as a priority sub-sector with immense potential for both expansion and employment generation under The National Strategy for Transformation (NST1).
“In an era where innovations need to be applied to a nutrition-sensitive and climate-resilient agriculture sector, which can ensure food security, Imbuto Foundation strongly believes in engaging, educating, and empowering our emerging visionaries, the youth, to drive the transformation of this sector, and our country at large,” she said.
She noted that the Imali Agribusiness Challenge was launched to provide a platform for inventive young minds from across the country to contribute to the agricultural sector and environment conservation.
“Let’s recognize all the young agripreneurs who have displayed a profound understanding of the interconnection between farming, technology, research, and environmental sustainability,” she added.
The Minister of Agriculture, Ildephonse Musafiri said that the challenges being faced in the agriculturale sector reinforce “the need to bring on board the youth to spearhead the development of groundbreaking solutions and pioneering technologies to shape the future of Rwanda’s agriculture.”
“Despite the sector’s significance, its untapped potential is due to several challenges, among which are: climate change, soil degradation, soil erosion, water scarcity, a rapidly growing population density, and agricultural land being encroached on for other purposes,” he said.
He said that the answer to these problems lies in innovation and adaptability.
“That’s where the Imali Agribusiness Challenge comes into the picture. Our young participants need to consistently keep in mind that with determination, creativity, and an innovative spirit, major transformations in the agribusiness sector are possible,” he noted.
He urged the youth to venture into organic farming, agri-tech, value addition, sustainable irrigation technologies, agri-food export and more.
“These solutions will redefine agriculture, create jobs and enhance food security,” he said.
He added that there is a need for ensuring that the youth’s groundbreaking ideas are scaled-up and continuously improved.
“This requires close and multisectoral collaboration from government, private sector, development partners, and our community,” he noted.
He assured that the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources is committed to creating an environment conducive to innovation, entrepreneurship, and skills development to ensure the growth and sustainability of our agribusiness sector.
The Agriculture sector employs 66 per cent of Rwanda’s labor force and contributes 25 per cent of the national GDP.
It is the second contributor in GDP after the service industry and up to 37 per cent of Rwanda’s export earnings came from the agriculture sector.