More farmers will now be able to access extension services following the hand over of 40 motorcycles by government to agronomists as part of efforts geared at increasing agriculture production.
The brand new Yamaha motorcycles worth Rwf100 million are part of the support from the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) and the Rural Income through Exports (PRICE) project designed to help address transport challenges facing agronomists in the country.
Jean Claude Kayisinga, the permanent secretary at the agriculture ministry, said the motorcycles will help improve the mobility of the extension staff, enabling them to take services to rural farmers and, hence, help them to increase crop production.
“The government appreciates the impact of cash crop officers in helping farmers improve production of export-oriented cash crops. Therefore, with assured means of transport, you should be able to serve more farmers and support the push for modern agriculture to enhance the sector’s productivity,” Kayisinga said during the hand over ceremony in Kigali last week.
According to Kayisinga, cash crop agronomists in rural areas lacked transport facilitation, which affected their ability to reach more people.
“So, these motorcycles are intended to help you to serve farmer needs and not meet your personal requirements,” he cautioned.
“There should now be no more excuses for not delivering on your tasks as the government has solved the main problem - transport,” Kayisinga added.
Sandrine Urujeni, the NAEB deputy chief executive officer, said the agro-export body seeks to develop and promote more agricultural exports, adding that bringing services closer to farmers would significantly support this objective.
Marie Goreth Mukamana, a cash crop officer in Muhanga District, called the support “a timely boost that will help improve contact between farmers and agronomists”.
“I am confident this will enable me to achieve better results in the district, in terms of export promotion,” she said.
The export body recently unveiled a five year strategic plan to increase productivity and value-addition along the value chain. The strategy targets to increase annual growth of agricultural exports across the board, according to George William Kayonga, the NAEB chief executive officer.
The strategy also seeks to achieve an average annual growth rate of 24 per cent in tea exports to of $94.9 million tea export receipts by 2018, up from $65.7 million in 2013.
In the coffee sector, the plan is to achieve an average annual growth rate of 29 per cent in coffee exports, raking in about $104.3 million in revenues by 2018.
In addition, the strategy targets to improve earnings from horticulture exports to $129.6 million by 2018, and also seeks to increase the area under tea from the current 25,308 hectares to 38,000 hectares and increase yields to nine tonnes per hectare from 6.7 tonnes.