The Government plans to deploy a mobile soil testing equipment to provide accurate data on the state of soil and the fertilisers needed as it intensifies efforts to increase agricultural output.
Dubbed Caravan, the project is being implemented through a joint venture between the Government and OCP group a Moroccan phosphates making firm.
Gerardine Mukeshimana, the Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources, says that, among other elements, the equipment help in carrying out soil analysis and fertility map of a pilot zone of 50,000 hectares.
“We’ll have them in this farming season A for 2019 (which will start in March). The aim of this initiative is to continue encouraging farmers to have their farmland tested, and show them the importance of this activity,” Mukeshimana said.
The minister was last week addressing Parliament on the challenges in the agriculture value chain.
Minister Mukeshimana explained that the partnership is among the immediate measures to improve research on soils.
The minister also disclosed that: “We have made trials on blends (blended fertilisers), which were intended to serve as samples for the fertilisers that the company’s factory is expected to produce locally when it starts operations next year.”
Vincent Havugimana, the President of Federation of Irish Potato farmers’ cooperatives in Rwanda said the initiative is laudable as it will boost farming activities across the country.
“We have been using fertilisers with no accuracy. Matching various soils and fertilisers based on the right formulas will help us increase farm productivity,” he said.
In 2015, the minister said, the government released a map showing soil acidity and the effects that it has on yields.
It is this map, she says, which the Government bases on to give subsidies to farmers from districts affected by poor soil conditions.
The farmers are given a subsidy of up to 50 per cent on lime applied to the soil to make it productive.
The scheme is being implemented in Nyamasheke, Nyamagabe, Huye, Karongi, Nyanza, Gicumbi and Rulindo districts with plans to roll it out to other parts of the country when the budget allows.
Last year, Rwanda used 40,000 tonnes of fertilisers.