Food security improved in the second half of 2007 by five per cent during the same period in the last five years, says a report.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources’ 2007 annual report, released yesterday, 983,950 metric tonnes of cereals equivalent food crops were produced.
The report also stated that food production was lower than the country’s needs by 101,000 metric tonnes. This resulted in 28,000 metric tonnes of food aid and 113,000 metric tonnes of commercial imports, making the balance at the end of the year a surplus of 40,000 metric tonnes of cereals equivalent.
Without the food aid and imports, Rwandans were able to receive 1,839 kilocalories per person per day—88 per cent of the global recommended daily diet of 2,100 kilocalories, the report said.
In addition protein from crop production met only 71 per cent of the recommended daily amount.
The report also states that there was a decrease in root, tuber and banana crops and an overall production decrease by 1.3 percent.
“Tubers and bananas are the most grown crops by area and their weight on overall performance of the sector is therefore, very important,” the report said.
Root and tuber crops declined by seven percent from 2006 while banana production was down one percent last year.
The decrease in banana production was “exacerbated by poor plantation management and lack of knowledge of good husbandry techniques,” the report said.
In response, the Rwanda Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) trained 4,507 farmers on banana plantation management last year.
The ministry is working towards improving these numbers through a number of projects, the report says.
“Today, all the ongoing activities in the sector are geared towards reversing the production trends observed in the last five years: investment in marshlands reclamation, irrigation, use of agricultural inputs and soil conservation are currently being focused on to improve food security and national incomes,” states the annual report, adding there is an increased use of improved seeds, cultivation of crops adapted to specific region and application of fertilisers.
In a note to readers in the annual report, the former Minister of State in Charge of Agriculture Daphrose Gahakwa said the department is “committed to ensuring food security and economic growth through sustainable production” and measures will continue to take place until there is food security in Rwanda.
“Research tells us that there are still great opportunities for yield improvements,” Gahakwa’s statement said. “However, the proportion of rural households using improved seed and fertilizers is miserably low.
This has to change with immediate effect. The country’s extension system is being strengthened so that adoption of improved technologies by farmers is harnessed.”
Among the challenges highlighted during the year, soil erosion has continued to make planning for the agriculture sector a problem.
Some of the measures government is taking to increase food output include crop rotation and the increase of bean and maize production.
In his introduction to the annual report, former Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources Anastase Murekezi explained that because the agricultural sector employs 80 per cent of the population, his ministry will “make considerable efforts to uplift the citizen livelihood” through diversified crop production and attempt to grow it by seven per cent annually over the next five years.
Some of the projects he noted were the one-cow-per-poor household project, which gave out 13,000 cows last year to “improve access to income, improved nutritional as well as manure to increase the productivity of their plots of lands,” and the Crop Intensification Programme, which he said “is expected to make a real impact towards the push for economic revolution that the country has embarked on.”
The government has also embarked on the construction of valley dams to catch water from road side.