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Rwanda Food Fellows see new alliances as key to deepening community impact

Rwanda Food Fellows have hailed opportunities for new collaborations as vital to bringing solutions to key challenges facing the country’s agriculture sector.

Rwanda Food Fellows visit One Acre Fund warehouse in Kayonza District of Eastern Province, Rwanda.

The fellows on April 28, 2023 visited One Acre Fund, Rwanda, an agricultural organisation that partners with the government and private sector to create stronger and farmer-friendly food systems. It provides farmers access to products, tools, and services they need to improve their harvests, keep their families healthy and their soils rich. The Fellows visited the organisation’s warehouse and a tree nursery in Kayonza and Ngoma Districts in Eastern Province to gain a deeper understanding of how the it is creating impact for farmers and the community at large through a variety of services.

The African Food Fellowship planned the field trip as part of its activities under the Country Food Fellowship platform.

“This is the first time we’ve had a field visit amongst Fellows to see real-world solutions to real-world challenges, and is such an inspiration for my work,” said Sustainable Land Use Fellow Moussa Senge Kyembwa, who works in One Acre Fund’s Innovations team. Part of his work involves running an initiative to tackle the prevalent issue of soil acidity in a bid to improve soil fertility.

Jennifer Kamoso, a Food Tech and Trade Fellow who leads One Acre Fund’s Internal Consulting team, said the field visit presented a chance to deepen collaborative thinking on mutually-impactful strategies. Kamoso’s work involves projects ranging from helping to address operational challenges to mitigating risks and taking up new strategic opportunities.

“We can see how some of the work that we’re doing relates to projects that others are running. For example, one of the other fellows has a maize mixed flour processing company, and One Acre Fund supports farmers to grow the maize variety they use,” Kamoso said.

Rwanda Food Fellowship creates opportunities for Fellows to collaborate and learn from each other in order to increase their impact within food systems.

The Fellows indicated they were open to forging alliances and partnerships with other actors within food systems to deepen community impact.

“I look forward to touching base with my colleagues at One Acre Fund after the field visit. It’s inspiring to learn what they are doing,” said Ildephonse Habinshuti, an Access to Nutritious Food fellow coordinating a project to avail seeds for distribution in Northern Musanze District.

Anysie Ishimwe, African Food Fellowship Rwanda Dean and Implementation Lead, commended the field trip for allowing fellows to learn from one another in the field and forge connections they can benefit from for years.

“It’s interesting to learn how One Acre Fund has refined its business model over the years. This trip presented a chance to ask questions and understand their model and work. They talked about how they are partnering with the government to ensure that all smallholders, including those not in their farmer network, can benefit. We are happy to see fellows inspired for their own work and exploring opportunities for collaboration,” Ishimwe said.

African Food Fellowship Regional Manager, Claudia Piacenza emphasised the critical role that Country Food Fellowships play in cultivating relationships, trust, and connection among fellows so they can act together and initiate systemic action. She indicated that already several organisations have benefited directly from Fellows as they contribute to shaping strategies and bringing new partners on board.

“The objective of Country Food Fellowships is to foster mutual learning, cultivate that curiosity to also speak to actors in the food system that we are normally not exposed to, and get insights from each other,” she said.

The African Food Fellowship is currently recruiting its third cohort in Rwanda as part of its mission to build the capacity of leaders at the forefront of food system transformation in Rwanda and beyond. Professionals working in the impact areas of Access to Nutritious Food, Sustainable Land Use, and Food Tech and Trade are encouraged to apply via this link before the deadline closes on May 15, 2023.