Govt ready to address drought impacts – officials

The government is committed to doing whatever it takes to make sure that no Rwandan dies of hunger, officials told journalists in Kigali on Wednesday. The news conference was called to present a general picture of agricultural produce, and the state of post-harvest handling and storage across the country.
Dr Mukeshimana speaks to the media yesterday.  (Timothy Kisambira)
Dr Mukeshimana speaks to the media yesterday. (Timothy Kisambira)

The government is committed to doing whatever it takes to make sure that no Rwandan dies of hunger, officials told journalists in Kigali on Wednesday.

The news conference was called to present a general picture of agricultural produce, and the state of post-harvest handling and storage across the country.

Some farmers in Eastern Province were affected by drought in this farming season (which started in September 2017), and the government intervened by providing them with food assistance.

The Minister for Local Government and Social Affairs, Francis Kaboneka, said that the government makes regular interventions to help those affected by drought. 

“We are following up on the issue of the drought on a daily basis, and we reassure everyone that no one will die of hunger. We have enough food to help them,” Kaboneka said.

“The situation that we had in 2016 was more serious than the current one, but, we were able to manage it and no person died of hunger as it happened elsewhere [in some parts of the world].” So, there is no big issue that we consider impossible for us to manage,” he assured.

During the 2016 drought, the government provided over 10,000 tonnes of maize and over 5,000 tonnes of beans in food assistance to about 100,000 affected households in the country. The households included 70,000 in Eastern Province and 30,000 in Southern Province, according to information from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources.

Currently, over 15,000 residents from about 4,000 households in the districts of Kirehe and Kayonza in Eastern Province have had their crops affected by the drought and the government has intervened since December, 2017 by giving them food aid.

The Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources, Dr Gerardine Mukeshimana, said the government was always ready to give the necessary support to people from drought hit areas.

 She said that, currently, there were about 14,000 tonnes in national maize granary in Musenyi,  Nyagatare District, and there were enough beans in bean storage facilities in Kicukiro, Burera, and Nyamagabe districts which were put aside to assist people in need. 

“We are prepared to address any problem that might occur,” said Mukeshimana, adding that there was enough produce in the country to meet the population’s needs.

“When there is drought, we carry out irrigation and provide the affected people with seeds and fertilizers so that they can carry on with their farming practices. Food is also given to those who lack it. 

We always work with the local leaders so that we assess the problem and offer necessary support.”

Minister Mukeshimana said that, this season, expected 775,000 tonnes of maize  from  about 258,000 hectares of consolidated land, 586,000 tonnes of beans, 66,000 tonnes of rice, 1.5 million tonnes of Irish potatoes, and 704,000 tonnes of cassava. 

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

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