Farmers urged on early land preparation as rainy season starts

A woman works in her plantation. Rwanda Agriculture Board has urged farmers to start planting early as the rainy season has already started. Sam Ngendahimana.

Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) has urged farmers to start planting quite early as the rainy season has already started.

With Season A land preparation rate at 49.8 per cent, RAB says that there is already a delay across most parts of the country, which could affect output.

“More effort is needed to encourage farmers to plant early. Most crops such as maize need water for a long time. So, planting early is necessary,” Dr Patrick Karangwa, Director General at RAB, told a meeting of leaders in Eastern Province on Monday. “We urge farmers to take advantage of the September early rains. That’s when they will be guaranteed of impressive production.”

Karangwa explained that farmers who delay to plant will harvest in March next year when Season B starts. This, he added, will affect harvest handling because of too much rain.

Increase production

“In particular, this season we ask people to work harder and increase production compared to the previous seasons,” Karangwa noted.

This is in line with the June cabinet meeting which tasked the Minister for Agriculture to work towards increasing production, which prompted an increase in funding to the sector.

The Government allocated an extra Rwf32 billion to the sector in the 2019/20 budget compared to the previous year.

It includes Rw11 billion earmarked for the setting up of post-harvest facilities.

One of the proposals aimed to boost crop output, RAB says, is to increase the size of cultivatable land through land consolidation.

Last season consolidated land that was cultivated covered a total 740,000 hectares. This season RAB targets 776,000 hectares.

Authorities have also proposed a move to reduce the area reserved for livestock farming in Eastern Province by 30 per cent in order to pave way for more crop farming.

“This is a decision that the ministers agreed upon; that pasturelands should be decreased by 30 per cent. This is aimed to increase crop production,” he clarified.

Egide Habimana, the Head of Imbarutso za Karembo Cooperative, which brings together 166 farmers, said that; “We are still in land preparation process, we have not planted yet. I believe that we have not delayed because we normally plant on September 15.”