The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) has commended Rwanda Fertilizer Company (RFC) for supporting Rwandan smallholder farmers with a comprehensive package enabling them to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
RFC is a newly created joint venture between the Government of Rwanda and OCP – a Morocco-based fertilizer producer and world leader in the phosphate industry.
As a new company, RFC was set up to initiate its operations at the end of 2020, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, it launched a crisis action plan prior to officially opening to help curb COVID-19’s impact on agriculture.
As COVID-19 pandemic persists, at least 500 metric tonnes of DAP fertilizers will be provided to smallholder farmers covering over 5, 000 hectares of land for season A 2021 as part of emergency relief.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) and Rwanda Fertilizer Company (RFC) are also partnering to develop trials for new fertilizer products, particularly for wheat, beans, and soybeans, by setting up demonstration plots across the country, a move that will see the institution spend $1 million (Rwf1 billion).
According to an announcement from ministry, this will allow the Rwandan fertilizer market to grow from one which uses standard products to a customized and tailored market.
“Almost $1 million will be invested to set up more than 450 demonstration platforms to build capacity and increase market knowledge. The aim is to introduce farmers and relevant stakeholders to best farming practices for all stages of the harvest, from seed selection to nutrient management, mechanization, and post-harvest handling,” reads part of the release.
Providing fertilizers to farms as part of emergency relief is in line with the government’s ongoing COVID-19 response intended to build the resilience of the country’s farmers, allowing them to increase productivity and continue producing enough to feed the population, Agriculture Minister Gerardine Mukeshimana said in the statement.
This is a significant contribution to our work to provide farmers with the essential nutrients needed to boost agricultural productivity, thus ensuring enough food supply, she noted.
The action plan also targets potato production, one of Rwanda's most important crops.
The project also seeks to explore how Rwandan farmers can improve potato yields and limit post-harvest losses through good agricultural practice.
This project will generate data that will improve the quality and volume of the farmers’ produce over time, which will, in turn, increase potato farmers’ selling prices and revenues.
Training on blending soil-specific and crop-specific fertilizers, officials said, will ultimately enable the farmers to better understand their soil and create fertilizer solutions that are adapted to their crops and more resilient.Follow NkurunzizaMiche