The government will continue to increase the supply of fertilisers as well as ensure the availability of quality seeds to farmers in addition to other interventions to improve farm productivity, Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente has said.
He made the pledge on Tuesday while officiating at the launch of the 2020 farming Season A in Buyoga Sector, Rulindo District.
Agricultural growth increased by one percentage point to 5 per cent in the second quarter of 2019 from 4 per cent in the previous quarter, the Premier said.
The fourth strategic plan for agriculture transformation, which runs from 2018 to 2024 targets an average annual growth rate of 10 per cent for agriculture.
This target is higher than the 6 per cent that was registered in the third strategic plan for agriculture transformation, which ended in June last year.
“This shows us that we should increase efforts in improving our agriculture sector performance because it has a great contribution to developing our economy,” Ngirente said. “Agriculture helps us to provide for our families, and feed our children, and enables us to get means to solve problems in our homes, develop our country and its exports.”
On average, the country spends an estimated Rwf25 billion on the purchase of seeds and fertilisers annually and the government provides about Rwf10 billion in subsidies while farmers cover the remaining part of the cost.
Fertiliser use was estimated at 33,000 tonnes per year as of 2017, according to Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), well below the target of 45,000 tonnes.
“We will continue to increase the use of fertilisers and their availability and accessibility to farmers because they are important [in increasing farm productivity].The government will continue to provide subsidies to farmers mainly on seeds including maize, wheat, and soya, as well as fertilisers,” Ngirente observed.
He pointed out that land consolidation and encouraging farmers to grow crops that support good nutrition have proven to be beneficial to livelihoods and should be scaled up.
The government has also put in place programmes to facilitate farmers’ access to seeds and fertilisers such as Smart Nkunganire.
Launched in 2017, the programme was developed to digitise the seeds and fertiliser subsidy programme and ensure efficiency in distribution.
Merdiana Nyirabavuge, a farmer from Rulindo District, appealed for increased access for irrigation technologies for farmers in order to combat climate change effects.
“We do not get access to water and technology to be able to irrigate our crops on hillside farms during the dry period. We only rely on rain-fed agriculture,” Nyirabavuge said.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), about 50,000 hectares of farmland is irrigated while an estimated 600,000 hectares can be irrigated. The ministry targets to irrigate 102,000 hectares of farmland by 2024.