KIGALI - President Paul Kagame yesterday officially opened the first ever tractor assembling plant in the country which will enable Rwandans purchase farming equipment at low prices.
The Rwf 1.6billion price tag on the plant includes the equipment imported by Government as well as money spent on its construction.
The machines are made by the Tong Yang Moolsan, a South Korean company, which has set out a clear roadmap of increasing its presence and investment in the country in the next three years.
In his remarks, President Kagame called on Rwandans to embrace modern ways of farming, saying that it is the only way the country will achieve its vision of achieving food self-sufficiency as well increasing incomes among the population.
“What we see here - these tractors signify development in agriculture that we want to be mechanized,” he told his audience at the plant in Jabana sector, Gasabo district.
The fully equipped assembling plant is built complete with a classroom for training personnel and also accommodates small and large machines which farmers may want to use depending on the size of the land to be tilled.
The President said that using traditional methods of hoes limits the size of land a farmer can cultivate, adding that it requires a lot of energy yet the output remains low.
He advised farmers, in their respective cooperatives, to put the tractors to good use in addition to using fertilizers, irrigation and selected seeds in order to achieve bumper harvests.
“Mechanization of agriculture means a lot, means modernization, means productivity and it means production in a very wide scale. If combined with other efforts, certainly that will make Rwanda achieve food security that it wants to see becoming a reality,” the President added.
The President added that the plant will not only benefit Rwandans but other countries will also find it useful in terms of increasing food self sufficiency.
The Chairman of the Tong Yang Moolsan Company, Hi Yong Kim said that the plant will help in constant servicing of the machines in case they break down.
“These machines will be made in Rwanda. They will be sold to different parts of the world from here,” he said.
Agriculture Minister Agnes Kalibata allayed fears that banks may not extend loans to farmers and explained that the tractors acquired will serve as collateral to the financing institutions.
She added that the brand new machines are quite affordable and can be used in both hilly and flat terrains.
Joseph Ndabamenye, the head of the UMICOOPAGI, a farmers’ cooperative in the Southern Province, said that the machines will reduce many hurdles farmers having been facing in working on large pieces of land.
“With tractors now, farming will be made easy and done in a short time,” he said in an interview.
The government has intensified efforts to increase farmers’ accessibility to the machinery through a proposed arrangement with local banks to deliver the equipment to farmers through leasing or hire purchase.