SME Fund and Multi-stakeholder platform launched to support promotion of circular economy in agrifood sector

As part of efforts to support the promotion of circular economy for food in Rwanda, an SME fund and a multistakeholder platform launched on 17th March 2023.  Through the SME fund, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) will be supported to access technical support to implement successful and sustainable circular business models while the multistakeholder platform will enable and encourage exchanges and dialogues to create a policy environment for institutionalization of stronger collaboration between public, private, and civil society players in advancing the circular economy for agri-food sector in Rwanda.

This is part of the Circular Food Systems for Rwanda project which is running from 2021 with the aim to transform Rwanda’s food system and make it more circular and sustainable.

“Globally, roughly one-third of food produced is lost or wasted, which amounts to about 1.3 billion tons per year; while many don’t have enough to eat. Rwanda is also not isolated to this; we also face the same challenge. Building a circular economy for agrifood sector is therefore very crucial to address this challenge” said Dr. Christian Sekomo Birame, the Director General of National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA).

The project is being implemented through a collaboration between the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA) through the Cleaner Production and Climate Innovation Centre (CPCIC) in Rwanda, the World Resources Institute (WRI), the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) Secretariat, Resonance, African Circular Economy Alliance (ACEA), African Circular Economy Network (ACEN) and is supported by the IKEA Foundation.

According to Dr Rebekah Shirley, Deputy Director for Africa at World Resources Institute, Food loss and waste leads to reduced economic returns “ Prioritizing reduction of waste is key to increase production & reduce environmental impacts." She added.

In Rwanda as elsewhere, food is fundamental to our health, environment, society and economy, but today’s food system is wasteful, resource-intensive and sometimes polluting.  A third of food is lost or wasted while many go hungry! Moreover, food waste and derivatives are landfilled or incinerated.

Through applying circular economy for food, the project will support to ensure that to ensure that the food is produced in ways that regenerate nature, reduce the food that is lost and wasted, and the commonly wasted resources will be used productively.

“I thank the Government of Rwanda, World Resources Institute and all program partners for building synergy to address food loss and waste to increase growth and tackle climate change." Said Annelies Withofs, Programme Manager at IKEA Foundation.

SMEs to be supported may work in any agricultural value chain, but priority will be given to horticulture, grains, aquaculture, and livestock value chains as well as circular innovations that can be applied across the food system.