FOR A long time, Rwanda has been importing most of its products, among them edible oil. However in a bid to boost availability of edible oil and reduce dependence on imports, the Government has earmarked 30,000 hectares of land for soya bean growing. While visiting Mount Meru Soyco, a local producer of cooking oil last week, Agriculture Minister Agnes Kalibata said the Government and other stakeholders would encourage farmers to embrace the crop.
Such an initiative could not have come at a better time. As Rwanda strives to meet its goals set out in the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS2), this project is one of the many ways that are likely to make this goal a reality. If implemented, this initiative is going to serve the economic development needs at the macro and micro levels. It will assure farmers of an income and at the national level it will save Government the burden of over reliance on imported edible oil. This will save the country a lot of money while boosting the farmers' financial capacity at the same time. In fact if well handled, Rwanda could in the near future begin to export edible oil.
Rwanda has fertile land and good weather, which farmers should take advantage of to tap into the soya beans and sunflower market.
However, the big task will be sensitisation of farmers to embrace the relatively new crop - soya beans. And much as it looks simple, convincing farmers will not be a walk in the park. Therefore, concerted efforts by all stakeholders are needed to convince farmers to support the edible oil industry.