Since July 2015, EWB-NY has partnered with Goodneighbors Management Committee, a maize farming cooperative in Rubaya, Rwanda. The overarching project consists of improved farming practices and the installation of maize processing technology to spur economic development in the area.
Please take a look through the page below and project pages to learn more about our partners, the project need and goals, and how to get involved! Our upcoming events are listed on the Rubaya Calendar.
Pictured above: Members of Goodneighbors cooperative
The Rubaya sector is located in the Gicumbi district in Northern Rwanda and its residents’ livelihoods are mainly derived through agriculturally-based vocations, including maize, dairy, and tea farming. Currently, the farmers practice subsistence farming with highly variable yields and quality, with little opportunity for economic growth. Another stumbling block is a lack of access to appropriate food processing equipment.
As part of a land consolidation policy, the Rwandan government has regionalized the production of crops throughout the country, with the Gicumbi district focused on producing maize. Following the harvesting of the maize, the farmers mill it into flour in order to consume it. Currently, the cooperative’s produce is not consistently compliant with the government’s standards, and thus, it has limited channels through which to sell its product. The nearest hubs that accept its product for processing and sale are situated in Byumba, Rwanda (60km) and Kabare, Uganda (50km). This is a significant issue because the Rubaya sector is a fairly isolated enclave due to the lack of marked and paved roads in the area, which makes travel outside of the immediate vicinity costly and difficult. Once the product is transported to these hubs, it is a cost to the farmers to have their product processed at these plants, further cutting into the potential profits for the Rubaya farmers.
The project is aimed to widening these distribution channels by increasing the quality of Goodneighbors’ product, which will enable the cooperative to sell its raw product to large-scale, highly quality-controlled mills in the country. Ultimately, with the construction of Goodneighbors’ own mill, the cooperative would be able to produce, mill, and sell its own product.
Following the travel team’s first assessment trip in January 2016, the project will proceed in two phases:
Phase I: Improved processes and facilities for maize growing, harvesting, quality testing, drying, bagging, storing and marketing.
Phase II: Following the successful completion of Phase I, Phase II would include improved processes and facilities for the production and marketing of maize flour.
As a first step in mitigating the needs outlined above, the EWB-NY team will be working with the Goodneighbors cooperative to improve its current standards of farming and storage to increase yields and eliminate disease.
To do this, EWB-NY and Goodneighbors will work together to stabilize the high variability in maize production and yield and to organize the cooperative in optimizing collection, distribution, and marketing processes. To improve the quality of the product, a structure will be built to house the crop while drying and provide a space for quality testing, bagging, and storage. Lastly, to facilitate sale of the product to the Rubaya milling facility, contracts for raw maize sale will be developed.
Pictured above: A maize drying facility located in Muhenge, in south Rwanda.
After establishing a foundation of consistent product and a unified marketing and sales strategy in Phase I, Phase II will be geared towards vertically integrating Goodneighbors’ maize flour production. The bulk of this phase will be to construct a Goodneighbors-owned milling facility and to develop contracts for the sale of maize flour.
EWB-NY engineering goals include design and construction of maize drying, storing, and milling facilities. Our technical scope of work includes machine selection, building design, and process engineering.
Pictured above: A maize milling facility located in Muhenge, in south Rwanda.
Goodneighbors as a cooperative is expected to increase farmers’ capacity to grow, harvest, and sell maize through collective farming practices, shared knowledge, and joint marketing. EWB’s impact in the design and construction of maize drying and maize processing facilities is expected to result in an increase to Goodneighbors’ capacity as a cooperative to provide services to its members and the overall community.
The construction of the maize processing facility is expected to provide a foundation for economic stability and cooperative self-advocacy by enabling the cooperative to produce reliably high-quality, marketable products that can be sold to large-scale buyers.
Following the installation of this facility, additional benefits over time are expected to be an increase in community development efforts as a result of the profits obtained from the facility. Over time, the cooperative will be able to leverage its facility as a service for other nearby communities and receive income for these services.