Mechanisms should be put in place by all concerned institutions so that fertilizers and seeds worth Rwf10 billion reach farmers before the 2019 Agricultural Season A starts in December, Patrick Karangwa, the Director General of Rwanda Agricultural Board has said.
He was speaking during a meeting with agro-dealers from across the country that discussed preparations for the new season.
“We want farmers to be ready with inputs before the rains. As we speak now, if we look at seeds stores in Masoro, even though some of them have been distributed, we still have seeds in stores which means many farmers are yet to receive them. The stores should be emptied in the next few weeks before the rains start in September,” he said.
We want to run the season without any inconveniences so that we are able to develop agricultural and livestock sector, change lives of farmers through ensuring good produce by using inputs on time through improved and smart ways of distributing inputs dubbed ‘Smart Nkunganire’”.
It is a mobile application used by over 1.4 million farmers where a farmer orders for the exact amount of inputs needed for their land. Seed suppliers will also easily be paid by government so that the inputs reach agro-dealers on time.
“Agro-dealers should work with Smart Nkunganire system to have a list of farmers who need fertilizers and seeds so that the distribution becomes easier and are held accountable if they mismanage such public funds,” he said.
Egide Gatari , the Agricultural Subsidies Program Manager at RAB said that last year in season A over 24,000 tonnes of fertilizers were used while 2,925 tonnes of maize, wheat and soyaseeds of were planted.
In the last agricultural season B, over 20,000 tonnes of fertilizers were used and 1,400 tonnnes of seeds planted by farmers.
For this season A, we have so far distributed 3.295 tonnes of fertilizers, 151 tonnes of maize, wheat and soya,” he said adding that over 5 million agro-forestry trees will also complement fertilizers to make soil fertile in 15 districts.
He said that some 1,200 tonnes of seeds have locally been produced to reduce seeds imports and that farmers should use them.
“These locally produced seeds provide good yields just as hybrid seeds do. We have seeds for both hilly and valley land. We would prefer, for instance, that 60 per cent of maize seeds are locally produced. To make sure agricultural produce increases, we must also put efforts in exploiting idle agricultural land.
Beatrice Kantarama, an agro-dealer in Rwamagana district says farmers are preparing their land and lists are being designed before seeds are ordered for.
“After we, agro-dealers, get the list of farmers in need of inputs, we will soon order for them from our distributors. We do this to avoid some seeds from rotting in our stores when demand is low. We achieve this by using Smart Nkunganire where a farmer is able to know the exact amount of inputs needed,” she said.
Jérôme Nahimana, another agro-dealer in Kamonyi district told Sunday Times that 6 tonnes of fertilizers are already in his stores but they are yet to store seeds because they are still waiting for locally bred which are recommended by RAB but have delayed to arrive.
“We have been told that a kilogram of locally produced maize seeds costs Rwf295 while imported seeds cost Rwf500. The locally produced seeds even provide high yields of 4 tonnes per one hectare,” he said.
Daniel Giez, the chief of party at Hinga Weze-USAID funded project which took part in bringing together the agro-dealers for discussion on the planting season, said that in supporting Rwanda’s efforts, the project is also injecting its support of $5 million in soil terracing and irrigation to make sure flooding and drought do not damage seeds, fertilizers and harvest as well as distribution ofinputs.