The 13th National Agri-Show 2018 at Mulindi/ Gasabo show ground commenced on 26th June and ended on Tuesday 3rd July. The annual event is organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) aimed at providing farmers and entrepreneurs an opportunity to showcase innovations and best practices in the agricultural sector.
The event is also a platform that brings together exhibitors and visitors to exchange information, experiences and an opportunity for the development of agri-business. This year’s Agri-Show was themed, “Invest in Innovations and Agribusiness to Transform Agriculture.”
The event was officially opened on Wednesday 27th June by Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Geraldine Mukeshimana. The Agri-Show attracted not only local organizations and agripreneurs but also foreign organizations investing in agricultural related activities in Rwanda.
International Potato Center with other CGIAR centers showcased their latest innovations and how they have empowered farmers to invest in agribusiness to transform agriculture through the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future in Rwanda which aims at significantly improving the nutrition intake and incomes of the beneficiaries.
The main objective of participating in this expo as CIP was to increase awareness among visitors and other exhibitors about CIP’s mandate and its activities in the country.
One of the new innovations exhibited was the urban vertical garden which attracted the attention of many people who visited the stand especially on seeing how one can use readily available materials at home like bottles and sacks to plant vegetables and fruits. The urban vertical garden was established by CIP to promote good nutrition practices amongst people living in urban areas like Kigali.
Among other exhibited materials included Orange-fleshed sweetpotato and potato invitro plantlets, the green house, cool storage for sweetpotato, different orange-fleshed sweetpotato varieties and processed products made from OFSP puree. Communication materials like brochures and flyers with information on how to improve nutrition practices and best agricultural practices in relation to OFSP farming were also displayed.
Products made from Orange-fleshed sweetpotato such as doughnuts, cakes, bread, biscuits, sweetpotato flour and other products like candies, crisps made from China were displayed for visitors to learn about value addition of OFSP.
Hundreds of people visited CIP’s stand with many searching for information about how they can start growing OFSP and where they can get sweetpotato vines. Others were amazed to learn of the nutritional value of sweetpotato whose leaves are also eaten as any other vegetables.
The highlight of this year’s National Agri-Show is that during the closing day ceremony, the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources as the organizers rewarded International Potato Center as the Best Exhibitor in Value Addition. This was in regards to using OFSP to make different baked goods.
It was also evident in the expo that many Rwandans especially the youth have embraced sweetpotato value addition as a business venture and are earning big from producing products like flour, pancakes, and biscuits to mention but a few.
Seraphine Mukanyamibwa, an OFSP farmer and project beneficiary from Muhanga district testified that, “CIP processing trainings have helped me and the women in my group to generate income from selling doughnuts, cakes, biscuits and bread which we make back home,”
Mukanyamibwa heads a women group of 30 in Muhanga who were trained in processing to start their own small businesses. She has been for the past three years participating in the expo selling orange-fleshed sweetpotato roots and OFSP bakery products.
She applauded International Potato Center (CIP) for the technical knowledge it has provided to its project beneficiaries like her in regards to OFSP value addition and Feed the Future, implemented by USAID through which such nutrition activities have made an impact on many Rwandans.