17 June 2012

Rwanda: Farmers Set to Reap Big From National Budget

With its huge employment capacity that stands at 80 percent of the total population, the government has prioritised key agriculture interventions in this year's budget which is likely to ignite farmers' economic, social development.

The country's resource envelope allocated Rwf 573.0 billion (16.7 percent of the total budget) to the productive cluster where agriculture falls, to boost productivity in the sector.

The Minister of Finance, John Rwangombwa said that the move from subsistence to marketable agriculture has been a particular policy focus for the sector, particularly focusing on the program of post harvest handling storage.

"The share of agriculture output to the market from rural areas has moved from 21% in 2005/06 to 26 % in 2011/12," he said in his budget speech on Thursday, this week.

Accordingly, through Land Husbandry, Water-Harvesting and Hillside Irrigation (LWH), the government will scale up irrigation of hillsides and soil erosion control. The move is likely to boost harvests of Irish potatoes especially, which have grown from around 4 tonnes per hectare to 30 tonnes.

"This drives the attainment of MDG 1c that is to 'halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger," the minister said.

Season A of this year indicates a surplus in the food basket of 126,000 metric tonnes against 82,000 metric tonnes in 2010/11.

"Results show that the reduction in poverty is supported by enhanced productivity and commercialization of the agricultural sector which covers more than 70 percent of employment," he added

The minister is optimistic that the country will be self reliant in rice production, and by 2014, considering large-scale marshland irrigation projects and additional 3,000 hectares of rice which were provided last year.

"For the existing irrigated marshlands, the estimated returns are in the region of USD 9.5 million for 10,000 households which is around USD 930 per household from the irrigated land," he said.

Again, efforts will also focus at improving market access for agricultural produce by supporting value addition in tea, coffee and horticultural commodities.

Export values for tea and coffee alone have increased to 139 million USD in 2010 calendar year from 112 million USD in 2010, an overall increase of 24 percent.

"We are going to link non-financial cooperatives which are under the crop intensification Program to SACCOs so that they can access credit and increase production," Damien Mugabo, the Director General of Rwanda Cooperative Agency- RCA said.

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