When leaders meet at the forth coming 14th National Leadership Retreat they are expected to explore effective strategies to address effects of drought on food production.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), some districts have been experiencing dry spell for last about two years.
The Minister in Charge of Cabinet Affairs, Stella Ford Mugabo said that the retreat, which will take place from February 24 to March 3, 2017 at the Rwanda Defence Forces Combat Training Centre in Gabiro, will among other things assess agriculture programmes.
Mugabo was shading light on recent cabinet meeting, where the issue of food security situation in the country was highlighted.
“We realise that the situation [dry weather patterns] is not going to change soon, therefore, we will consider what we can do to ensure Rwandans remain self-reliant [in terms of food] by maintaining production through irrigation,” she said.
“We will evaluate the measures already in place, including irrigation and progress of some activities and what we can do to improve,” she said.
Food production in the 2017 farming season A will be affected in the Eastern Province which was the most hit by drought which started in September 2016, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Gerardine Mukeshimana.
The drought affected Nyagatare, Rwamagana and Gatsibo districts.
Some sectors of Kayonza, Kirehe and Ngoma districts were more affected with production going down to more than 50 percent.
In Southern Province, Mukeshimana said drought affected almost the entire province.
“Our interventions included offering food support to affected families while sensitising farmers to irrigate their crops and store excess produce,” Mukeshimana said.
Though, the Minister said that overall, there is food security at the national level.
In a bid to help farmers to access irrigation technology, the Government subsidises irrigation equipment at 50 percent.
However, some farmers say they are unable to cover the remaining balance.
But Minister Mukeshimana said that the government would link farmers mainly under cooperatives, with financial institutions to get loans.
She encouraged private investors to develop irrigation schemes on consolidated land.
The dry spell that started in September 2015, affected 100,000 households of which 70,000 were in Eastern Province and 30,000 in Southern Province.
The government provided over 10,000 tonnes of maize and over 5,000 tonnes of beans to support their food needs, according to MINAGRI.
Currently, the number of farmers using irrigation technology is estimated at 1.1 per cent in the country, figures from Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) show.
Irrigation area in the country is about 45,000 hectares, while the target is 100,000 hectares in 2020.