Micronutrient deficiency in Rwanda includes: iron, Vitamin A, folic acid and Iodine deficiencies and according to the Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey (RDHS 2015) and the Rwanda nutrition profile by USAID reports, 38 percent of children under 5 years are stunted; 37 percent of children age (6-59) months are anaemic, a slight decline from 38 percent in 2010 while 19 percent of women of reproductive age (15-49) and nearly a quarter of pregnant women are anaemic. Under the Recommended Level of Investment (RLI) scenario, although per capita egg consumption increases, a significant shortfall continues to exist in meeting the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recommended requirement, which is 4.5 kg per person per annum—so significant investment in the poultry value chain will need to continue in the long run. This can be achieved if we decrease the number of challenges hindering the poultry value chain in general.
In 2018, two Innovation Accelerator Call for Proposals under the Marketplace for Nutritious Foods have been launched and distributed in Rwanda. It is noticeable that business owners/poultry producers have skills and knowledge required to succeed in this sector, they strive to address long term financial and nutritional aspects of poultry products for the Rwandan population but there are some challenges that still persist. Two major challenges presented by businesses in the poultry sector are: limited availability of feed and improved chicks. It was for this reason that through the Community of Practice approach which is a network open to entrepreneurs, businesses, universities, regulatory bodies, NGOs and associations, the Marketplace in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) and Rwanda Poultry Industry Association (RPIA), organized a stakeholders’ consultative meeting to discuss on how to strengthen the poultry value chain. Bearing the theme "Making poultry products affordable begins with availability of quality and affordable animal feeds and improved chicks" a consultative meeting was held on 27 September 2018 in Kigali to come up with possible solutions on how to strengthen poultry sector in Rwanda.
Discussions were facilitated through panel contributions by representatives from GAIN, Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM), Rwanda Poultry Industry Association (RPIA) who discussed and highlighted the "Role of different players in ensuring availability of quality and affordable animal feeds and improved chicks". From the questions raised by the plenary, businesses face challenges in access to quality feeds and high cost of improved chicks. Chicks are not available locally and most of them are imported from Uganda, Belgium and Netherland which pauses challenges for a small business as most of them cannot afford quality feeds and chicks. All questions asked by the audience were related to challenges they face including feed: high prices (0.30 – 0.40 USD/kg); availability (6 feed manufacturers in the country) and competition with human food. challenges related to improved chicks are: high prices (0.75 – 1.50 USD / day old chick); availability (imported from Uganda, Belgium and Netherlands); and resistance to diseases (easily affected by diseases).
“You know how eggs and chicken meat are hard to get on markets especially outside Kigali but if some of the constraints you face as primary producers are solved in forums like this, we shall make sure these products are commercialized on local markets and exported” Said Dr Theogene Rutagwenda, Director General in charge of animal resources at MINAGRI.
This meeting served as a platform for poultry value chain actors to address their issues directly to policy makers and get to know about the Livestock Master Plan and Poultry Roadmap (2018 – 2022). There are great opportunities for poultry farmers and businesses at GAIN first through networking and core learning. Businesses and participants had an opportunity to understand the role of each stakeholder in contributing to availability of affordable poultry products to improve nutrition status of Rwandans.