Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) will for the first time distribute at least 2,000 tonnes of locally produced maize seeds to farmers for planting Season A beginning December.
Dr Patrick Karangwa, the Director General of RAB, said that the move is part of national local seeds production strategy seeking to reduce seeds imports with targets to have over 60 per cent of maize seeds locally produced by 2021.
The strategy has put emphasis on eight crops including maize, wheat, Irish and sweet potatoes, soya and beans.
Statistics show that government spends at least Rwf3.4 billion to import hybrid cereal seeds each season.
However, the imports can be reduced significantly with the tonnes of maize seeds that will be locally produced.
“We have managed to produce locally seeds. We have about 2,000 metric tonnes of seeds that has been locally produced in comparison to the past where we used to import about 3,000 tonnes of maize seeds outside of the country,” he said.
“These will solve farmers’ complaints about delays of seed distribution and is likely to guarantee success in coming seasons,” he said.
Egide Gatari, the subsidy programme manager at Rwanda Agricultural Board told Business Times, that the they have so far been able to produce three types of hybrid maize seeds that can be grown on medium and low altitude areas across the country.
“These locally produced seeds can provide the same produce as the Hybrid seeds we used to import. This is a huge step for the local seeds production strategy. We tell agronomists to start mobilizing farmers to grow those such maize seeds varieties,” he said.
Government has so far spent about Rwf10 billion on seeds and fertilizers for this 2019 Agricultural Season A of which some seeds were locally produced.
“In this Season 2019 A, we have so far distributed 3,295 tonnes of fertilizers, 151 tonnes of maize, wheat and soya together and others are still being distributed to farmers,” he said.
Gatari said that in last year season A over 24,000 tonnes of fertilizers were used while 2,925 tonnes of seeds of maize, wheat and soya were planted.
In the last agricultural season B, over 20,000 tonnes of fertilizers were used and 1,400 tonnnes of seeds were planted by farmers.
Jerome Nahimana, an agro-dealer in Kamonyi district said that most retailers do not have seeds in stock as they are waiting the locally produced ones.
They however noted that the locally produced hybrid maize seeds are cheaper and produce good yields as other Hybrids.
“One kilogramme of locally produced maize seeds retails at Rwf295 while the one of imported hybrid seeds retails at Rwf500 .We are told that a farmer can harvest 4 tonnes per one hectare with the locally produced seeds,” he said.
Beatrice Kantarama, an agro-dealer in Rwamagana District, Muhazi sector said that farmers are preparing their lands and making orders in readiness to receive the inputs.
Aman Karwa, the president of COOPPROMASA cooperative of 164 farmers that grows maize and Soya on 80 hectares in Gatsibo District told Business Times that they are currently preparing their land in readiness for the seeds.
“We need two tonnes of maize seeds to plant on 80 hectares this season. We are preparing the land but we are still waiting for the seeds to be distributed. We hope that locally produced hybrid maize will come on time as opposed to previously when delivery of imported seeds was often delayed,” he said.