The New Times (Kigali)

26 December 2012

Rwanda: Modern Agriculture to Help Trade Imbalance

Rwamagana — Rwanda must reduce import-dependency by increasing exports through modern agricultural productivity, according to Minister for Cabinet Affairs Protais Musoni.

Speaking at a one-day meeting on agricultural transformation in the Eastern Province, the Minister said that the country's exports were far less than the imports, which he said has a big implication on the economy.

The meeting attracted lawmakers, Agriculture Ministry officials and the Governor of Eastern Province among others.

Musoni challenged local leaders to devise tangible means to increase production of crops for export.

"We have high demand of greens and vegetables from Qatar and Dubai that we can't satisfy for example...agricultural products in general have big market," Musoni added.

The Minister further advised local leaders to streamline procurement procedures, adding that implementation programmes should be decentralized.

"We import five times more than what we export...this is a very bad trend that tends to keep us dependent. Let unnecessary procedures not deter economic development."

One of the easiest ways of increasing production as highlighted in the meeting was through increased use of fertilizers and planting high yielding varieties that respond positively to fertilizer application.

The Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, however, blamed the low levels of agricultural production on farmers' attitude towards modern agriculture.

Kalibata blamed the Mayors on poor mobilization of farmers to use artificial fertilizers.

She said that chemical fertilizers should be regularly used and promoted in all districts of the country, noting that using chemical fertilizers was a great investment to increase agricultural production.

"We have issues in usage of fertilizers...farmers don't use fertilizers and hence produce less. This comes down to local leaders' reluctance to help farmers understand the importance of suing them," she said.

The Rwandan government has promoted mechanized farming as a way to increase productivity of its farmers throughout the country.

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