Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) has urged farmers to increase wheat growing so as to meet the target of planting the crop on 95,000 hectares by 2019 across the country.
The Director General of RAB, Dr Mark Cyubahiro Bagabe, made the appeal while launching Agriculture Season 2017B in Gicumbi District last Friday, where farmers and officials planted wheat on 35 hectares in Rwagihura cell, Nyankenke Sector.
Officials said the planted wheat variety, ‘Njoro’, is wind and drought resistant as well as highly yielding.
It can yield over 4 tonnes of wheat per hectare contrary to the previous one that could produce only 2 tonnes per hectare.
They said the target is to grow wheat varieties that can yield 7 tonnes per hectares.
“We need farmers to increase wheat production by adopting new varieties which are demanded by factories. By 2019, we will have met the target of growing wheat on 95,000 hectares across the country, but this requires 9,600 tonnes of seeds to be planted,” Bagabe said.
He observed that unlike other crops, wheat is only grown in hilly areas in the country.
According to figures, Rwanda has recently planted over 55,000 hectares of wheat in 11 districts across the country.
The Mayor of Gicumbi District, Juvénal Mudaheranwa, echoed farmers’ complaints of lack of market.
Pembe processing plant in the area rejected farmers’ wheat, saying their varieties did not meet their factory standards.
“We have today planted seed variety imported from Kenya, recently we developed ten new varieties at RAB research centre that will be on the market soon in order to complement the others we have, especially those imported. Farmers should embrace these seeds that the factories want and increase production,” Bagabe added.
He pledged that seed multipliers will be trained, adding that RAB plans to establish other research stations in Gicumbi District.
Three years from today, we want the issue of seeds availability to have been solved, he said.
What wheat farmers say
Thomas Nzeyimana, a wheat farmer in Nyankenke Sector, said he started growing wheat in 2001.
He currently earns about Rwf2 million from wheat growing on 2.5 hectares and employs 12 permanent workers.
“I have bought more land, worth Rwf6 million. I have also trained farmers on how to grow wheat in Rwagihura cell. I, usually grow wheat during Agriculture Season A and B,” he said.
Nzeyimana grows wheat on 1.5 hectares in this Season B.
He intends to plant 150 kilogrammes of seeds, from which he expects to harvest 3.5 tonnes.
“The market for our produce is a problem. I usually harvest and store it so that I sell it later at a good price. Last season I harvested 1.2 tonnes and earned Rwf600,000 after injecting in not more than Rwf200, 000,” he added.
The Governor of Northern Province, Jean Claude Musabyimana, urged farmers to harvest rainwater so that it can be used to irrigate their crops during drought.