The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Eastern Province Projects Bumper Rice Harvest

Agronomists in Eastern Province have predicted bumper rice harvest in the current season, 2013B, citing farmers' positive attitude towards the crop growing as the main motivating factor.

Innocent Ukizuru, the agriculture officer in charge of Rwamagana district said yesterday, that farmers across all districts in the province made significant effort towards increasing the rice production.

According to statistics from Rwanda Agriculture Board, last season at least 568,000 hectares were planted and harvest was successful done on over 513,000 hectares.

"We achieved 91 per cent of our target last season, but the way things stand today, we expect to go beyond this figure after harvest. The trend is fantastic," he said without disclosing the figures.

He told The New Times that farmers had been trained in the operation and maintenance of the rice fields, with the objective of increasing their yield.

"We expect huge rice production this season...farmers have fully embraced the modern agriculture methods of rice production. It has also contributed to improving their livelihoods and lifestyles, it is motivating in itself," he said.

Ukizuru added that farmers' main constraints that prevented increase in rice productivity were addressed.

"We availed high quality seeds and the drainage system has been streamlined to prevent flooding during the rainy season. These were some of the problems that used to hinder rice production that are no more".

According to Protais Murayire, the Mayor, Kirehe district, the importance of rice as a staple food for big population, was fascinating enough.

"Rice fields provide incomes and employment to thousands of citizens and , of course, rice is important for enhancing nutrition and sustainable development," he said.

Being essentially an agrarian economy, however, Rwanda is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Like other staple foods, therefore, rice production remains rain-fed which makes it vulnerable.

"Our concern remains over dependence on rain...we are lucky that we have been having reliable rains of recent, but in some seasons the story was different. Rain-fed agriculture is indeed a big challenge, particularly with the climate change," he said.

Francois Muramira, 56, a rice grower, noted that rice provided enough income to farmers compared to other crops.

"It is true that rice growing is demanding - you know it is a labour intensive activity - but the motivation lies in its ability to pay farmers. There is significant evidence that lives are changing positively at the village level," he said.

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