Farmers in Rwempasha Sector, Nyagatare District have trained in the use of bulls to plough land as part of the country’s efforts to increase agriculture output, through mechanisation.
The Saturday training session, attended by hundreds of residents of Gasange village, was organised by HarvestPlus Rwanda.
In addition, the organisation donated agro-equipment to different farmers, worth $18,000.
HarvestPlus facilitates global efforts to improve nutrition and public health by developing and disseminating staple food crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals.
Addressing the farmers, Lister Katsvairo, the country manager, HarvestPlus, said ploughing using bulls would increase farmers’ efficiency.
Katsvairo said labour was a major issue in the sector, adding that this new method would reduce cost of production.
“Labour on farmlands in Nyagatare District is a known challenge. It is responsible for late planting, weeding, and so on that lower quality and quantity of produce,” he said.
He further said Harvestplus partnered with the government to help farmers acquire requisite implements to increase profits.
“We trained the farmers. They can now use bulls on their farms while planting, weeding and levelling the land. All equipment that are used in these activities were imported, but businesspersons can take over and supply them,” he said, adding that since Nyagatare is one of the districts with the biggest number of cattle heads, the animals to do the job are in plenty.
“This will create a win-win as even businesspersons will make profits. It is an opportunity for private sector to sell farm implements.”
The district’s agriculture officer, Flugence Mutabaruka, said many farmers would be sensitised to adopt the system across all villages in the district.
“The nature of our land favours mechanisation and bull ploughing for that matter. Our people have enough cows to do the work. We only need to sensitise them since it is not part of their culture,” he said.
Selimani Busungu, a farmer in Rwimbogo Sector of Gatsibo District who participated in the training, said that farmers expected to increase area of land cultivated with the bull ploughing.
“There is no doubt that farmers will benefit because change from a hoe to mechanisation is what we crave for. The new system will thus make a big difference and we look forward to mastering it fully,” he said.
Rwanda’s long term agriculture plan is to fully embrace mechanisation by 2020.