Rwanda: Agric Expo Ends With a Call to Farmers to Embrace Technology

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Jean Claude Musabyimana has urged Rwandans, especially those in the agriculture sector, to adopt technology which he said will turn their fortunes.

This was the message he carried for different stakeholders as he officiated at the closure of the 14th edition of the annual agriculture show held at the Agriculture Exhibition showground in Mulindi, Gasabo District.

Some of the Fieldking Farm Equipment displayed at Expo.

Given the fact that agriculture is the highest income earner not just for Rwandans but for the national economy, a lot has been done to promote the practice including coming up with a strategic plan that will run for six years (2018-2024).

The Strategic Plan for the Agricultural Sector focuses on shifting from subsistence to market-led agricultural sector which means that for the country to achieve this goal there should be a lot done in order to make the produce from Rwanda compete favorably on the international market.

A lot of technologies therefore have to be devised to see to it that this dream is fulfilled among which are cases of reducing post harvest losses, value addition to agricultural products and improved means of irrigation, agricultural insurance among others.

A drone sprays pesticides on an Irish potato plantation, showcased during Expo.

Held at the Mulindi Agricultural Showground in Gasabo District, the exhibition ran from June 18-26. The number of exhibitor is estimated to have surpassed 400 from 20 countries from all over the world.

The exhibition also attracted over 10,000 visitors, reflecting significant interest in the event. This year's agricultural exhibition ran under the theme "Promoting competitiveness of Rwanda Agriculture". Musabyimana noted that the use of technology would make Rwanda's agriculture more competitive. "There has been an innovation that was also exhibited here where farmers have been able to carry out irrigation using drones and this ensures that farming can go on all year long without getting worried about the absence of water," he noted

Musabyimana noted that with technologies, farmers can grow all types of crops in all parts of the country throughout the year regardless of the weather patterns.

Other technologies also exhibited at the weeklong event were the value added products such as oil made from avocado which was a new innovation.

This means that even if the country produces a lot of avocados, processing would help ensure steady market and increase its demand on the international market.

The Permanent Secretary also expressed his delight for the big number of youths that are engaging in farming and related fields.

He said this while appreciating the students of Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centre (IPRC) Musanze who made an overhead sprinkler that will help farmers water their crops especially those that grow to a remarkable height and can't be sprayed using a knap sack sprayer.

He also noted the importance of many agricultural products that are on the market after being processed and having value added to them.

Yoghurt and cheese, sweet potato floor, avocado oil are among that he mentioned and stated that the processed agricultural products are the ones that get exported to the international market.

At the event, the representative of the exhibitors from Rwanda Jean Claude Shirimpumpu thanked the government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources for the way it is supporting farming through events like this one. He also noted that as the agriculture business is steadily growing, creating the need for agricultural show particularly for farming produce and tools and one for only animals and birds.

This is because different members of the public are interested in agriculture. Therefore, separating them would mean that different players are targeted separately.

Among some of the exhibitors at the weeklong event were students from University of Rwanda's College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine majoring in Food Science and Technology. She says that most of the products they exhibited were those used in research purposes.

The products included pawpaw and carrot juice, cakes and bread made out of orange sweet potatoes and also sweet potato floor.

She added that processing these farm produce into products like bread and juice solves the issue of post-harvest losses. Usually farmers grow crops in plenty and after harvesting, the yields usually go bad due to lack of proper storage facilities. She, however, notes that processing sweet potatoes into floor ensures a better and durable end product.

Jean Claude Shirimpumpu an exhibitor from the Northern Province was showcasing his pigs and to the surprise of many, he had a 3 year old pig that weighed 487 kilogrammes and said he has been in the business for the last 10 years and says he has no regrets.

On the issue of lack of capital to invest in agriculture, there was a solution known as "Ikofi" a service from Bank of Kigali which allow a farmer receive a loan from the bank and be able to finance his duties such as purchase of farm equipment, labour among others.

One extremely new technology that caught the attention of many was the innovation where one was able to monitor his/her garden from the comfort of his office or home. This latest development helps to establish the amount of water in the soil.

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