Farmers have been advised to employ better farming practices if they are to increase crop production next season.
Innocent Musabyimana, the deputy director in charge of agricultural extension at the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB), said timely planting and applying right combinations of fertilisers, as well as pests and disease control must be observed to boost crop output.
“There is no reason why farmers should not get better yields next season if they follow the strategic production plan we have put in place,” he noted.
He said that RAB had equipped all field officers with requisite skills to help mobilise farmers ahead of the coming season.
“We are also engaging local government agricultural officers who will monitor farmers throughout the season as agreed in district performance contracts,” he said.
Musabyimana noted that RAB would also focus on land consolidation, especially for the arable land, irrigation and terracing.
“The new strategy is projected to double yield production per hectare from 2.5 tonnes to six tonnes.”
Recently experts warned that African countries could face food insecurity by 2050 if no mechanisms are put in place to increase crop production.
“African countries must produce an extra 70 per cent food for its population by 2050 if it’s to survive starvation,” Dr. Timothy D. Searchinger, an associate research scholar at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, said during a conference on agricultural research and extension in Kigali last month.
According to the Crop Assessment report 2013, total production in the first season of 2013 increased by 12 per cent compared to the same season last year.
Maize production increased from 406,389 tonnes in the first season of 2012 to 505,887 tonnes, wheat doubled from 7,887 tonnes in 2012 to 14,392 tonnes, rice increased from 33,702 tonnes in 2012 to 41,787 tonnes and beans rose from 245,191 tonnes in 2012 to 253,952 in the first season of 2013.
Banana output went up from 160,4149 tonnes in 2012 to 1,654,150 tonnes in the first season of 2013, Irish potatoes output dropped from 1,501,595 tonnes during the first season of 2012 to 1,432,045 tonnes during the first season of this year. Production of sweet potatoes increased from 411,788 tonnes in the first season of 2012 to 500,049 tonnes in 2013.
According to Musabyimana, production could double in the coming season, if farmers follow RAB guidelines.