Farmers and other people in the agricultural sector have embraced the new inputs (seeds and fertilisers) distribution model under the Government subsidy scheme, saying it has helped in accessing these inputs timely.
According to farmers, the new Inputs Distribution Model, under the Government Subsidy Scheme, has also helped to reduce mismanagement in the distribution chain.
Ndahayo Jean Claude, in Mukamira sector, Nyabihu district, says the government’s initiative of bringing fertilizers closer to the farmers has helped improve farming in their district.
The 35 year old father of three is both an Irish potato farmer and an agro dealer.
“Today it is easier to access the fertilizers and this has facilitated me in doing business.
Farmers have been sensitized about the importance of fertilizers and this has helped them to increase production of farm products and besides, Agro dealers have the chance to negotiate directly with the private sector -Fertilizer and Seeds suppliers,” he says.
Ndahayo says harvests were always disappointing before he started using fertilizers. “I used to harvest a meagre 3 tonnes of Irish potatoes in any given season.
Today, with application of Mineral fertilizers, I am able to produce between 40-50tonnes of good quality potatoes during a good season,” he says before adding, “I was just a potato farmer, but now I have expanded into business.”
The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resources (MINAGRI) envisioned the fertilizer importation and distribution system as a sustainable way to disseminate sufficient quantities of fertilizers affordably and on a timely basis in line with the overall goal of promoting strong private sector involvement.
Since the privatization of fertilizer importation in 2013, the subsector is experiencing rapid changes.
MINAGRI has to keep the private sector incentivized to remain in the market through the implementation of policies that address the private sector needs.
MINAGRI is continually looking to improve competition at the importer and agro dealer’s level and this has benefited the farmers in terms of lower fertilizer prices.
Companies importing fertilizers have been mandated to invest in the promotion of fertilizers. They have developed plans to work through the decentralized extension system (TWIGIRE MUHINZI) to promote fertilizer use.
Furthermore, companies have made partnership agreements with financial institutions and insurance companies where farmers purchasing inputs have access to season credit and crop insurance.
Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) in collaboration with districts has embarked on a rigorous campaign to promote fertilizer usage.
Speaking to The New Times, Egide Gatari, agriculture subsidies programme manager at RAB said more farmers are now using fertilizers and improved seeds.
“Today because of the use of fertilizers, farmers are getting more than 5 tonnes per hectare where they used to harvest only 2 tonnes without fertilizers.
Gatari says farmers have a choice to use macro fertilizer, micro and blends because secondary and micronutrients are being imported and sold under subsidies to address all soil nutrient deficiencies.
“The everage use of fertilizers per hectare is 32kg though the government’s target was 45kg”
RAB under the new model signed contracts with eight private companies to import and timely supply mineral fertilisers in the country under the Government’s subsidy programme.
The companies are allowed to trade fertilisers through the Agro Processing Trust Corporation Ltd (APTC Ltd) as a distributor, which, in turn, takes those fertilizers and seeds to a pool 0f 916 private glass root Agro dealers whom sale to farmers in all the districts of the country.
The crops that are covered under the Government subsidy scheme for fertilizers in this farming year are maize, beans, wheat, soya, rice, Irish potatoes, cassava, banana, vegetables and fruits.
According to Gatari, there are 30 agro-dealers cooperatives at the district level and 916 at the sector level in the country.
Last financial year, around 32,000 tonnes of mineral fertilisers were used, according to Gatari.
The Government targets to have about 50,000 tonnes of mineral fertilisers applied in the 2017 agriculture season A and B, he added.
He said the subsidy for both seeds and crops in the same period is estimated at Rwf 11 billion.
The National Fertiliser Policy, developed by the Ministry of Agriculture in June 2014, targets fertiliser use of 45 kilogrammes per hectare in 2017/18. This translates into 55,000 tonnes of fertilisers.
The Commercial Manager for YARA Rwanda, Peter Ngugi says that the main reason for opening stores upcountry was to help farmers access fertilizers from their distributing company (APTC) easily and on time.
“We opened up stores in many districts across the country and the move has helped farmers get easy and rapid access to fertilizers within the country for increased use and improved agriculture yields” says Ngugi.
The subsidy varies depending on the type of fertiliser. For instance, DAP, commonly used for maize, is subsidised at 35 per cent, with a kilogramme at Rwf410, while it would be Rwf630 without subsidy.
NPK 17:17:17, applied mainly on potatoes, attracts 15 per cent subsidy with a kilogramme at Rwf520 after subsidy.
Three seeds companies are the ones allowed to import seeds into the country, according to the new model.
The seeds subsidised are maize, wheat and soya.
Seeds subsidy also varies depending on the seed as, for instance, H629 – a hybrid maize grown in high altitude areas, gets 75 per cent subsidy, with a kilogramme at Rwf460 instead of Rwf1,840.
Imported soya seed, like SC Safari, is subsidised at 85 per cent, where a kilogramme goes for Rwf250 against Rwf1,440 (unsubsidised).
Rwanda’s agricultural growth hinges on agricultural intensification and is targeted as a key contributory driver to economic growth and poverty reduction.
Recognizing, however, that most of Rwandan soils is characterized by low productivity due to nutrient depletion arising from continuous cultivation and soil erosion, it is of essence that increased and judicious use of fertilizers is adopted to achieve agricultural intensification.
MINAGRI’s role is to develop and implement strategies that ease fertilizer supply and demand constraints.
On the supply side, MINAGRI and partners build the capacity of importers and agro dealers in product knowledge, entrepreneurial skills and logistics management, to manage their business better and ensure timely distribution of quality fertilizers.
RAB and it key stakeholders are working hard to have an improved electronic system which will help the country in smart management of agriculture subsidies by 2018 A Season.
Further, MINAGRI is implementing actions to progressively liberalize the market. There has been gradual introduction of competition through relaxing the conditions for private companies to import and distribute fertilizers.
The result is companies participating in fertilizer importation have increased from three (3) in 2013/14 to eight (8) companies for during this season.
Previously importers were allocated districts, but now, private companies can distribute fertilizers to any district in the country.
MINAGRI is relaxing price controls by moving from fixed prices to ceiling prices to attract and retain private companies in the market.