Heifer International’s new President and CEO, Surita Sandosham, on a working visit to Rwanda from the 1st – 5th of November 2022, engaged with key stakeholders, and reiterated Heifer International’s commitment to supporting improved living incomes of smallholder farmers and drive food sustainability in the region.
This was Sandosham’s first visit to the African continent since taking the helm at Heifer International on the 1st of October 2022. She was accompanied by a delegation of other Heifer International leaders, including Adesuwa Ifedi, the Senior Vice President of Africa Programs.
During her three-day visit, Sandosham met with Dr. Geraldine Mukeshimana, the Rwandan Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI); development partners; and other key stakeholders to discuss the progress of Heifer Rwanda partner projects and explore other potential collaborations in the country.
The meetings focused on increasing investments for the advancement of the agriculture sector and food security, particularly in the livestock and horticultural value chains, and strengthening the partnership between Heifer International and the Rwandan Government.
The role agriculture plays in ending hunger and poverty globally cannot be overemphasized. Smallholder farmers produce 80% of Africa’s food, and agriculture contributes over 23% to the continent’s GDP.
“This is why increased and innovative investment across the agricultural value chains are crucial to ensure resilient food systems that ultimately contribute to sustained food security in Africa,” said Sandosham during her trip.
She added: “Over the last 22 years, Heifer International has served families in Rwanda through various projects and initiatives that help increase the productivity of smallholder farmers by promoting the utilization of sustainable agriculture practices and improving their capacity to earn a living income.
“We remain committed to working with partners in the government and the development sector to foster self-reliant and resilient communities in Rwanda and across Africa, positioning agriculture as a job of the future.”
On this partnership with Heifer, Dr. Mukeshimana, said: “Through our continuous collaboration with Heifer Rwanda on various projects such as PRISM, we’ve made significant progress towards improving the resilience of Rwandan communities through agriculture.
Mukeshimana said with Heifer International, Rwanda look forward to exploring and implementing more sustainable project models across the country especially towards youth empowerment.
Heifer Rwanda is currently implementing two projects; the Rwanda Dairy and Development Project (RDDP) and Partnerships for Resilient and Inclusive Small Livestock Markets (PRISM).
The RDDP project aims to proactively catalyze pro-poor national economic growth and improve the livelihoods of 100,000 resource-poor rural households of which Heifer International supports 41%.
Through PRISM, the organization is implementing the social mobilization and graduation of vulnerable households’ sub-component which aims to reach over 48,750 small livestock farmers that practice farm-yard chicken, pig, goat, and sheep farming– in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, the Single Project Implementation Unit (SPIU), and IFAD.