FEATURED: IFAD boss tours Masaka creamery, commends staff inclusivity

FEATURED: IFAD boss tours Masaka creamery, commends staff inclusivity
FEATURED: IFAD boss tours Masaka creamery, commends staff inclusivity

Africa-Press – Rwanda. Dominik Ziller, the Vice President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), has commended the idea of employing ‘plenty of youth’ with speech and hearing impairment, under the Rural Youth Empowerment Support (R-YES).

Ziller shared the remarks on Tuesday, following a guided tour of the Masaka Creamery Ltd (MCL), a Kigali-based dairy processing factory, which is also part of the R-YES implementers.

Funded by IFAD, the 5-year project (June 2020 – December 2024) aims to create employment opportunities for youth in agribusiness.

R-YES targets seven agribusiness value chains with potential to attract and provide decent employment (self and wage) to youth in agribusiness.

It is led by a consortium led by Kilimo Trust Rwanda.

“What is very special is that the plant here employs plenty of youth with disabilities (deaf), so this is something which is very much in line with our mission to really live up to the development goals while no one is left behind,” Ziller told The New Times in an interview on the side-lines of the event.

At MCL, over half (26 out 46) of employees have a hearing impairment, including the production manager and the entire production department.

The factory makes dairy products including yogurt, butter, fermented milk, and cheese.

“Another special thing about this project is that they do a match making between the youth that are willing to do this work and the enterprises. They are really branching out and also training young people to have certificates and licenses to be able to qualify on the market,” he added.

“The more a country becomes self-reliant and self-sustainable and produces everything you need like food onshore in your country, the less dependent you are on global developments, regardless of what happens with the pandemic and any crisis,” he asserted.

The project is part of a larger programme of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) that focuses on creation of employment opportunities for rural youth in Africa through support to integrated agribusiness hubs.

Increasing demand

According to Andrew Gashayija, R-YES Project team leader, since the launch of the project, there has been increasing demand from different partners to contribute to the project’s aim of “creating greener pastures even in the rural areas.”

As it stands, he pointed out, a total of 349 are going through training in six colleges, and that MCL is one of the 25 industries they are partnering with.

“The youth need to be skilled so that they can take advantage of opportunities in agriculture, which is the main livelihood in rural areas,” he said.

Questioned on the high business failure rate of grants given to youth, Gashayija highlighted that R-YES builds technical and entrepreneurial skills of youth from IFAD loan portfolio through Business Development Fund (BDF).

“By building technical and entrepreneurial skills of rural youth, this project provides much needed skilled labour in food and agribusiness industries and reduces youth migrating to urban areas.; sometimes crossing over to other countries (in search of job opportunities),” he added.

Ziller recommended that more efforts should be put to ensure that the project is sustainable.

“My recommendations for this one here, in particular for Kilimo; we provided a grant for Kilimo to allow them this matchmaking between enterprises. The question is, what will happen if this money runs out,” he added, “What we need to do is to find out how Kilimo can work sustainably, whether the government steps in to give them subsidies, or gives them additional money.”

“Be it that they charge fees from employers to whom they give…we are committed to stay with them and help them develop.”

For MCL, according to Luke Lundberg, Director of Special Project, the aim is to foster capacity expansion, acquire a dairy quality lab, develop their software to be able to track all their products as well as rebrand.

Ziller is in Rwanda to discuss how to further strengthen collaboration between Rwanda and IFAD, especially now that the government aims to move agriculture from subsistence to a more knowledge-intensive, competitive and market-oriented sector.

Since 1981, IFAD has financed 19 rural development programmes and projects in Rwanda for a total value of US$631.5 million, of which IFAD has contributed $358.0 million, directly benefiting about 1.5 million rural households.

Dominik Ziller, the Vice President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development with staff of the Masaka Creamery Ltd (MCL) during his visit at the firm in Kigali on May 10. Courtesy
Dominik Ziller, the Vice President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development during his visit at at the Masaka Creamery Ltd on May 10,2022
Officials in a group photo after visiting the the Masaka Creamery Ltd at Kigali Special Economic Zone on May 10.

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