Delayed distribution of seeds to farmers is one the factors that undermine agricultural output, senators have observed, tasking Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) to urgently address the issue.
The senatorial standing committee on Economic Development and Finance as well as officials from the Auditor General’s Office Wednesday met RAB officials.
The meeting was triggered by 2017 Auditor General’s report, which revealed that RAB destroyed 225,640 kilogrammes of maize seeds worth over Rwf90 million.
The seeds were rotting in RAB stores and were past their germination period, the report stated.
The destroyed seeds had been kept for long instead of being distributed to farmers for planting.
According to the report, a review of the RAB records further revealed that during the year ended June 30, 2017, RAB lost extra Rwf31.6 million, owing to seeds that were rotting in their stores.
In addition, the audit exposed that in September 2016, RAB distributed 14,582 kilogrammes of maize seeds to farmers, which fell short of standards.
Grace Rwakarema, Assistant Auditor General at the Office of Auditor General, said cases of seeds rotting in RAB stores led to the loss of public finds.
“There should be careful planning to ensure timely procurement, supply and distribution of seeds for early planting so that farmers get good yields,” she observed.
Senator Evariste Bizimana said that, in addition to the late delivery of seeds, farmers expressed concerns of seed varieties that were unsuitable for their land.
“Some maize seed varieties can give yield after three to four months in dry regions such as in Nyagatare District, yet it takes up to eight months for the same varieties to grow in Nyabihu District as the area is cold, which delays yields,” he said.
“RAB should show us how it plans to address the identified problems.”
RAB Director General Patrick Karangwa acknowledged that the mistakes that were highlighted are avoidable.
He said that the complex process of importing seeds and the lack of a proper procurement plan are partly to blame for the delays.
He said government has invested in the production of quality seeds locally to trim the seed import bill and slash the period it takes to deliver to farmers.
“For instance, currently, we are locally producing about 2,000 tonnes of maize seeds against about 3,000 tonnes that we have been importing,” Karangwa said.