17 February 2019

Rwanda: Reduction of Imported Cereals Seeds to Save Rwanda Rwf4 Billion

The Government will no longer spend about Rwf4 billion annually on importing of maize, wheat and Soya seeds since they are now locally being produced.

The move is in line with one of the resolutions at the 15th Leadership Retreat last year to fast-track domestic production of agricultural seeds to ensure that all the required seeds are locally produced and enhance the production of needed fertilizers in the country.

Egide Gatari, the Agricultural Subsidies Program Manager at Rwanda Agricultural Development Board told Sunday Times that all most all maize, soya and wheat seeds which have been distributed locally were locally produced.

The farming season B for 2019 started this month.

The local seed production strategy focuses on eight crops that include maize, wheat, soya, beans Irish and sweet potatoes.

"Over 2,300 tonnes of maize seeds have been locally produced and 1,400 tonnes will be distributed to farmers in agriculture season B. We are ready to distribute 300 tonnesof Soya seeds this season.

Out of 500 tonnes of wheat seeds to be distributed only 150 will be imported but will not be imported next season," he said.

We used to spend about Rwf4 billion on these three types of seeds and from now the money will remain circulating in economy instead of going to outside, he explained.

The farmers have been urged to embrace the use of 'Smart Nkunganire', a new way of ordering for seeds and fertilizers by attaching the area size of land through a mobile telephone, something that eliminates traveling long distances to reach agro-dealers.

It has so far reached over 1.4 million farmers under the support of USAID-project Hingaweze that is training agro-dealers and farmers to adopt and register into the system and compliance with agrochemicals management law.

Daniel Gies, Hingaweze project Chief said the project also trains farmers on how to cope with climate change, scaling and decentralizing agro-inputs warehouses, training on post-harvest handling and linking farmers to markets in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture.

Dr Charles Bucagu, who is in charge of Agricultural Research and Technology Transfer at Rwanda Agriculture Board, said that thanks to using agro-inputs suitably, 441,000tonnes of maize was produced from farming season A for 2019, 350,000 of beans, 637,000 of Irish potatoes, 57,000 of rice and 800,000 tonnes of cassava.

He added that due to drought that affected the districts of Bugesera, Ngoma, Kayonza and Kirehe, the produce is not much different from the previous seasons as it has not increased.

Bucagu further added that the seeds failed to germinate in those districts due to drought which made the farmers resort to planting crops resistant to climate change such as Cassava and sweet potatoes and short seasonal crops such as beans since normal planting period had elapsed.

He added that some farmers will start benefitting from agriculture and livestock insurance this season adding that farmers should do post-harvest handling by drying and storing well the harvest to avoid humidity.

Dr Bucagu said they will be following up on the issue of farmers who were given unsuitable maize seeds

"RAB issues seeds with quality certification but some agro-dealers store them in bad conditions. If farmers get damaged seeds, they will be compensated but those who caused the loss must be accountable," he said.

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