Can farmers make the most of wetlands to boost food security?

Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) has urged farmers across the country to make use of agricultural wetlands and hillsides for respectively growing irrigated short-term  crops and drought-resistant crops under 2020 Agricultural season C.

The short-term crops are the crops that are grown and harvested after a short period of time.

 

Agricultural Season C starts from June to August before starting season A in September.

 

Patrick Karangwa, The Director General of RAB told all districts, sectors, cells, villages and farmers to partner in preparing Season C and urged farmers to exploit all agricultural wetlands and hillside land where it is possible to irrigate crops and grow drought resistant crops.

 

The recommended short-term crops are mainly sweet potatoes that resist to dry spells and vegetables that can be irrigated, he explained.

“We urge farmers to grow short-term crops such as sweet potatoes that resist to dry seasons as well as vegetables that can be irrigated. Prices for fertilizers are available at low prices and sweet potato vines are also available,” he said.

Karangwa said that farmers ought to plant vegetables that are demanded on the market to enable farmers and the value chain recover from economic impact due to COVID-19 pandemic.

“Farmers must fast-track the activities to prepare nurseries for vegetable seeds so as to plant on time,” he said.

Agriculture to boost economic recovery

While other sectors of economy were adversely affected by COVID-19 pandemic, agriculture is among the key sectors that will help government boost economic recovery.

However, it was not safe from floods that ravaged crops in the agricultural season 2020B across the country.

A total of 570,000 hectares of land were tilled in the agricultural season B.

But at least 6,000 hectares of crops have been destroyed so far according to figures from RAB.

“Farmers should plant short-term crops on farms that were devastated by floods. Crops that were not completely submerged under season C should be revived with fertilizers,” he said.

The current rains are expected to halt towards the end of May according to Rwanda Metrology Agency.

The official said that measures such as rainwater harvesting are needed to support irrigation in every dry season.

Threats such as floods, dry spells are not only the current threats to agriculture sector , he said adding that the region in which Rwanda is located, is also currently threatened by locusts that could reduce food in the region.

The spread of the locusts in the neighboring countries namely Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, raised Rwanda’s preparedness and readiness to keep the pest at a bay.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) through its Regional Commission for Controlling Desert Locust in the Central Region (CRC), has so far trained a total of 20 agriculture experts from the agriculture ministry on Desert Locust survey and control operations in Rwanda to prepare for the potential threat.

Jean Claude Izamuhaye, Head of Department of Crop Research and Technology Transfer at Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board said that vegetables are to be planted on over 10,000 hectares under agricultural season C.

“That is why we are prepared to fight locusts that can damage the crops,” he said.

“Some farmers and agronomists have also been trained and more will be trained in desert locust control and management.”

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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