EDPRS: Walking the Talk : MINAGRI leads in changing a people’s lives and transforming the economy
The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) is very pivotal in Rwanda’s economy and people’s lives. Considering that about 80% of Rwanda’s population depends on agriculture, working with them, on a day-to-day basis, to improve their perception and taming of the environment in which they live and harvest to defeat necessity is as important.
In the EDPRS programme, the Ministry is mandated with developing and managing suitable programs of transformation and modernization of agriculture and livestock to ensure food security and to contribute to the national economy. The Vision is to modernize Agriculture and Livestock to achieve food security.
One of the key pillars of this vision is the transformation of Agriculture from subsistence to a productive high value, market oriented farming that is environmentally friendly and has an impact on other sectors of the economy.
The policy of the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources is to increase animal production, modernize farming, reduce poverty, ensure food security and have surplus for the market. This will ultimately result in the increase of the standard of living of the population. The transformation of the animal resources industry can only be achieved if the constraints to animal production are reversed.
MINAGRI has therefore identified the major strategic paths towards attaining the mission and transform a people’s lives among which are the diversification and intensification of plant, animal and fish production as well as the diversification of income and employment sources for rural populations.
The ministry is also working towards linking products to markets and mainstreaming the agricultural economy into the national and regional economies, ensuring sustainable management of natural resources, particularly soil and water as well as organization, mobilization and capacity-building for producers and their organizations.
Other thrusts which the ministry is bent on attaining are capacity-building for service providers, privatization and private-sector development and creating an enabling institutional framework for the professionalization of producers and modernization of agriculture in Rwanda.
Creating an enabling environment for productive investment and the development of entrepreneurship and employment in agro-industry, redefining the role of the Ministry of Agriculture and redirecting its actions towards the sector programme approach in a context of decentralization and promoting the gender approach and reducing vulnerability among disadvantaged groups are also high on the ministry agenda.
Over the past financial year MINAGRI has worked to implement 10 policy actions with the broad goal of increasing agriculture productivity. Policies targeted all areas of agriculture development from land consolidation, managing soil erosion, establishing Water User Associations, irrigation, regulatory framework for fertilizers, extension services, post harvest handling, malnutrition, One Cow per Poor Family and the poultry sector. In fiscal year 2011/2012 MINAGRI has already committed its entire.
A number of projects have therefore been initiated to support MINAGRI in the realization of the EDPRS goals.
Bugesera Agriculture Development Support Project (PADAB)
In the past Bugesera District was among the areas in the country which used to face intermittent famines due to severe droughts experienced in the area.
The Rwandan government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) and other stakeholders, came up with initiatives to eliminate the cruelty of the climatic vagaries and turn the region into a potent food basket.
Bugesera Agriculture Development Support Project (PADAB) was launched in Bugesera District in July 2007 to accelerate the development of the agriculture sector.
The Project is financed by African Development Bank (AfDB) with a budget of around USD 18 million and will be completed 2013 according to Steven Ndayambaje a Monitoring and Evaluation officer. It operates in five sectors which include; Nyamata, Mayange, Juru, Mwogo and Rilima.
Steven Ndayambaje says they are clearing Rurambi Marshland alongside Nyabarongo River where Rice will be grown on at least 1,000 hectares of land.
He explains that the activities to clear the marshland which is located between Bugesera and Kicukiro districts begun in July 2010 with over 70 percent of the work completed. The total rehabilitation will be done by September 2012 at a cost of Rwf6.8 billion under the supervision of China Geo-Engineering Corporation (CGC).
“Rurambi marshland rehabilitation provides between 1, 000 to 1,500 jobs per month to the area residents who engage in various activities which has totally changed their social welfare,” Ndayambaje observes.
As the rehabilitation of the marshland gets underway residents around the marshland are carrying out maize farming within the swamp where they have so far harvested over 1200 tones of the cereal. The project also deals in hillside protection on various hilly areas in Bugesera District aimed at protecting the area from soil erosion which could affect the marshland under preparation.
PADAB in partnership with the area residents has completed the construction of radical terraces on 100 hectares but intend to cover a total area of 800 hectares. The residents also plant grass on the terraces which they later use as fodder for their livestock.
The project has also trained residents in cooperatives management with the residents of Mwogo and Juru sectors now involved in banana growing. Residents have also been mobilized to engage in the growing of fruits which include mangoes, avocadoes, Pine Apples and mushrooms and seek to protect water catchment basins and improve rain-fed farming on nearly 5,000 hectares of hills in addition to building the capacity of farmers and supervisory institutions in the area to strengthen food security.
The Support Project to the Strategic Plan for Agricultural Transformation (PAPSTA) and Kirehe Community Based Watershed Management Programme (KWAMP) are two projects operating under the Single Project Implementation Unit (SPIU).
The seven-year- project was started in 2006 with an aim of transforming agriculture in six districts of; Gakenke, Ngororero, Nyanza, Kirehe, Nyamagabe and Bugesera which were identified with most vulnerable farmers cultivating on less productive land as a result of soil erosion.
In market support programme, five Milk Collection and 6 Community Innovation Centers have been set-up. These are hooked to internet connection and libraries to enable farmers access agriculture information through research. Conference halls where cooperative members can undergo agriculture trainings have too been constructed.
The project has taken tremendous strides towards improving the agriculture sector, improved economic status of the beneficiaries, poverty reduction and elimination of malnutrition.
In Kirehe District, the project has so far supported 6,500 families.
Focus is also put on Crop Intensification Programme as well as integrating livestock in agriculture.
In a bid to increase agriculture production, PAPSTA encourages farmers to promote the government initiative of land consolidation, using fertilizers, improved seeds and also involve in market support programme to ensure that farmers get good markets for their agricultural products.
PAPSTA as a project has also empowered the population to adopt or embrace the culture of saving. The project has encouraged farmers to work in cooperatives and currently, CIC Kirehe/ PAPSTA zone has 25 cooperatives and 22 associations in different domains which include breeding, farming, handcraft, forest nursery, seed multiplication and food for livestock.
PAPSTA has also enabled 49 employees including those from MINAGRI and some institutions in the private sector to go for further studies in India in various agricultural fields such as irrigation engineering, agricultural engineering, mechanization, seed industry and disease control. This has helped in addressing different capacity gaps in the agriculture sector.
The project has introduced Rice Intensive System which is based on the utilization of water, using better seeds and better weeding methods. Last year (2011) two farmers were hired from Madagascar and spent four months training local farmers in the six districts on how to improve on their agricultural systems. This has enabled farmers to increase their Rice harvest from around 3 tones to between 7 to 8 tones.
PAPSTA also promoted animal feeding compared to the previous years where livestock farmers used to face a challenge of lack of good methods on how to feed their animals which was affecting their milk production.
Kirehe Community Based Watershed Management Programme (KWAMP)
This mainly deals in local institutional capacity development of Kirehe District in the promotion of agriculture sector
Officials from KWAMP collaborate with Land Registration and Regularization officials which has translated into 60 percent of the Kirehe population acquiring land titles. The project (KWAMP) donated 1 million USD to the National Land centre which enabled them to speed up the land registration process in the whole district.
Currently, Kirehe District has potential of carrying out irrigation on about 45,000 hectares of land. The project has so far developed two sites in the district in Sagatare and Cyuzi areas where rice cultivation using the best irrigation practices is carried out on 500 hectares with about 800 hectares currently being worked on targeting 2,000 hectares of rice plantation before the end of 2012.
There are also other four sites which are under development for the construction of dams. One of the dams will have the capacity to irrigate 500 hectares whereas another one in Nyamugali will irrigate 450 hectares.
On the new sites, Water Users Associations have been set up which will help farmers on how best to effectively and efficiently utilize and share water after the construction of the dams.
Under the project, a value chain development fund has been introduced with an aim of supporting investments in agricultural production and to encourage the private sector invest in the agriculture sector. About 5,000 hectares of maize, 12,000 hectares of beans and 10,000 hectares of banana plantations have been cultivated
Other crops and acreage are; 1000 hectares of rice, 1,000 of coffee and 1000 of pineapples. KWAMP also signed an MoU with Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) to make follow-ups on how the project is being implemented in the entire district.
By end of June 2012, the project had donated over 2,150 cows in Kirehe District. It also supported the construction of a milk collection center which has a capacity to process at least 300 litres of milk a day.
In terms of post-harvest handling, the project helped the district to construct 10 maize drying grounds and is planning to protect 18 watersheds in the district.