The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Kalibata Challenges Local Leaders On Agricultural Productivity

Local leaders should own improved system applied in agriculture to help farmers contribute to development of Rwanda and hit the target of becoming a middle income economy.

Dr Agnes Kalibata, the minister for agriculture and animal husbandry, who was speaking in Rulindo District on Wednesday, said last year agriculture productivity was not good enough because the weather messed farming schedules.

In the first phase of the season, there was a single percentage growth in agriculture, against the targeted 8.5 per cent at sector level.

"Season B has a role in annual performance economy, it is the beginning of the year and we have to start it well. There is no food insecurity; the problem is economic growth for farmers, we need to aim higher and look at the productivity while doing planning if we want to hit the target," Dr Kalibata said.

The minister said there was still a long way to go before agriculture begins to significantly play its crucial role in national economic growth.

She said agronomists and local leaders should do the best to help farmers use fertilisers, consolidate their land and do necessary crop rotation while using improved seeds to exploit the potential that exists in the agriculture sector.

The minister, who also pledged support for capacity building, said there should be mechanisms that help farmers benefit during bad seasons.

Emmanuel Ndagijimana, the president of COAMIVU, a cooperative in Burera District, said they are ready to buy produce at fair value for farmers.

Governor Aime Bosenibamwe challenged local leaders to use the natural gift of the province to lead the country's development agenda.

"We can't be a middle income country without improving agriculture; we all need to change our mindset so we treat agriculture as a priority. Our population growth must be an opportunity, not a challenge," the governor said.

Fertiliser use stands at less than 65 per cent in Northern Province, and despite its fertile climate helped by the Volcanoes, local leaders were urged to help boost fertiliser use.

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