The increase in fertiliser use from the planned 53 million kilogrammes to about 74 million kilogrammes as indicated by the Auditor General’s report for the financial year 2020-2021, was a result of a mismatch between the country’s fertiliser target and the available subsidy for farmers, the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) explains. RAB’s top managers were on Monday, September 12, responding to queries regarding public resources mismanagement cited in the Auditor General (AG)’s 2020-2021 report. The report noted inconsistent correlation between arable land cultivated and fertilisers distributed to farmers during the period in review. According to the AG, the fertilizer meant to be distributed as per plan was over 53.8 million kilogrammes, while the actual quantities distributed was over 73.9 million Kgs, representing a 37 per cent disparity. This, the Auditor General said, implies that cultivated land should also have increased, which in actual sense did not. The report argued that although the inconsistency can be attributed to inadequate planning by RAB, this can also be an indication of possible misuse of fertilisers across the country. PAC Chairperson, Valens Muhakwa, said that RAB should indicate the amount of fertilisers needed to achieve farm productivity based on the size of the farm land in question. “You should indicate the amount of the funds available, and the gap it presents... and that the [envisaged] produce will not be obtained if the 20 million [kilogrammes of fertilisers] are not available,” he said. Patrick Karangwa, RAB Director General told PAC members that thus far, fertilisers distributed in the country is not used on the total farmland area of about 1.4 million hectares reported by the Auditor General, as Rwandan farmers who apply fertilisers are estimated at 35 per cent of all the farmers. He said that the 53,000 tonnes of fertilisers were not enough to cover the about 1.4 million hectares in the country. The amount of needed fertilisers per year are projected under the national strategy for transformation and the strategic plan for agriculture transformation, he indicated. This year, he said, the budget that was allocated to RAB was enough to cover subsidy on 53,000 tonnes in the fiscal year under review, adding that in the current fiscal year, the available funds can subsidise fertilisers 66,000 tonnes. Yet, he said, the country’s needed fertiliser use was 84,000 tonnes in the current fiscal year. When the quantity of fertilisers for which RAB has Government subsidy is over, farmers are not denied access to fertilisers because this is an import farm input required for farm productivity and food security for the country. He said that the previous two years, industry and services sectors were down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Government agreed to increase agriculture sector output so that to address the gap of these sectors in question. This would be done through encouraging farmers to use fertilisers. “We had to do our best in the national planning so that agriculture output is increased, in order to address the gap of the industry and services that were brought to their knees by the Covid-19 pandemic. It was decided therefore, that farmers continue using fertilisers such that it increases to 73 [thousand] tonnes,” he said. “So, it is not the size of the farmland that increased, rather, the rate of the people who use fertilisers increased the fertiliser use per farm],” he said. MP Omar Munyaneza, Chairperson of the Committee on National Budget and Patrimony said that the issue of exceeding the subsidised fertiliser amount leading to the Government owing areas to the agro-dealers, has been reoccurring for years. He said that the Committee discussed the issue with three ministers – including that of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN), the Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI). “We asked them why they overspend compared to the budget we have given them. The Ministry of Agriculture told us that “we cannot let people die of hunger or lack fertilisers because we did not get [enough] budget. What we do is to agree with the supplies so that they give them the fertiliser and then pay them [the subsidised part] once the budget is available [in the following fiscal year],” he said. “We requested that they should not procure fertilisers beyond the allocated budget without the permission of MINECOFIN,” he said.