Reducing Postharvest Losses for Persons with Disabilities
Although Rwanda has registered remarkable progress in including socially disadvantaged groups, persons with disabilities (PWDs) still face many cultural and socioeconomic barriers that inhibit them from accessing income-generating opportunities.
Founded in 2007, Twisungane Mageragere, a 140-member cooperative based in the Rutsiro district, strives to ensure their members with disabilities meaningfully and consistently gain from income-generating activities through cultivating reliable markets for their produce.
To strengthen support to their members with disabilities, Twisungane Mageragere applied for and received a grant worth $8,600 through the USAID-funded Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze activity, implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), which aims to sustainably increase productivity and incomes for 530,000 farmers.
Through its gender and social inclusion program, Hinga Weze worked with Twisungane Mageragere to promote independence in adults with disabilities and established a gender support network in the community.
Through the grant, the cooperative purchased postharvest equipment that is appropriate for some of its members with disabilities, including electronic maize shelling machines, hand shellers and tricycles to transport produce from their gardens to the market. With this equipment, the cooperative was able to harvest and process 1.5 metric tons (MT) of maize, earning about $350 (350,000 RWF), up from 200 kg harvested the previous season. The grant has also enabled female cooperative members to process and transport their produce with ease and have enough time to attend to household chores.
“Our members are excited and now feel they can compete favorably against other farmers,” observed Protais Ukizuru, president of Twisungane Mageragere.
Among the 2,111 PWDs supported by Hinga Weze in 10 districts across Rwanda, these cooperative members are already considering expanding their farming and processing maize from neighboring farmers to increase their incomes.