Time to speak the farmers’ language

Early this week, the African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Rhoda Peace Tumusime, commended Rwanda for emphasizing investment in the agriculture sector in order to guarantee food security. This is not something new, however, with the looming food scarcity in the region and Africa in general, food security has been on top of the agenda for governments and other stakeholders.

Early this week, the African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Rhoda Peace Tumusime, commended Rwanda for emphasizing investment in the agriculture sector in order to guarantee food security.

This is not something new, however, with the looming food scarcity in the region and Africa in general, food security has been on top of the agenda for governments and other stakeholders.

At the highest level, the commitment to finding a lasting solution to food scarcity cannot be doubted. But, for the solutions to be successful, they have to be translated into a language understood by the rural populations.

The priority objective is increased productivity for farmers in Rwanda. It is scientifically proven that food production can be raised substantially through improving soils, water harvesting, quality seeds and technical extension.

But even with this knowledge available, we have witnessed cases where farmers are unwilling or have refused to change their traditional farming methods, meaning low food production. Ironically, it’s the rural population which is most affected, in the event of food shortages or poor harvests.

Let the support to the farmers be the starting point for Rwanda.

Behaviour change communication experts should come in and help change the mentality of farmers, sensitising them to the need for a change in their productivity.

The farmers are not short of water, especially during the rainy seasons, but are not harvesting it for the dry seasons.  The farmers need to be trained on rain water harvest techniques.

Development partners and relief agencies such as the World Food Programme (WFP), should support soil inputs instead of food aid.

That will lead to increased local production of food and more sustainability.  The WFP should invest in seeds, fertilizers and water management.

Most farmers cannot afford fertilizers and inputs needed for agricultural development, meaning, they will need resources from development banks.

However, there are not many farmers able to afford access to bank credit For a lasting solution, the rural population has to be kept abreast with modern agricultural developments taking place in the world, and in the language they understand.

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