BY GODFREY NTAGUNGIRA
Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) is a short term framework for Rwanda’s development, presenting the key priorities and providing Rwandans with a guiding tool for the implementation of Vision2020 goals.
It supports a clear Rwandan identity reflecting the ambitions and imagination in combating poverty and division.
Rwanda’s economy is based on agriculture with more than 80% of the population engaged in subsistence agriculture.
Agricultural transformation is of course, only one element of the country’s economic strategy, which aims to create a more diversified and competitive economy
Livestock are a source of food providing milk and meat to the population. They can provide this all the year round and this is important in ensuring food security.
Livestock are both an inflation-proof and productive investment. They are one of the few assets which if owned by poor households can be crucial in maintaining household survival in times of crisis. They can be sold to contribute to the income of the farmer.
As the EDPRS programmes have intensified the infant mortality of children under five from 105 cases to 50 cases.
Modern breeds have dramatically increased 70 baselines in 1997 to 14842 2008
Milk production has also increased by 250,000 tones of milk by 2008. According the Rwanda Animal Resources Development Agency (RARDA) boss Dr Theogene Rutagwenda Rwanda is looking forward to putting lots of efforts in processing the milk production.
Rutagwenda added that as more milk becomes available in the country, imports of milk and milk products is expected to fall saving the foreign exchange that would be spent on importing milk and milk products.
He denied allegations that the government banned local breeds of cattle in favour of modern breeds.
“There is this misconception in the public, but the truth of matter is that the government is looking for livestock modernization which does not mean there’s a ban of local breeds”
Apart from being self sufficient in milk and milk products, farmers will be able to sell extra milk that is not consumed by the family.
The sale of milk is expected to boost the farmer’s income and as well their purchasing power parity. It will also enable farmers to live outside the poverty line.
Due to efforts put in the modernization of livestock sub sector currently the trend of imported milk declined from 3000 tones to less than 1000 tones.
In the poultry sub-sector, the government lifted the ban and today the national hatchery is operational which increased the eggs production on market and permission to import was also lifted.
Livestock provides a range of other benefits including hides and skins, fuel for cooking and appropriate transport for carrying water, goods and people and play a significant role in the social traditions of the Rwandan population.
In addition, animals provide traction that is important in agricultural production.
Livestock are central to farming systems used by the poor, providing manure often when the purchase of substitutes is impossible.
The use of manure is an efficient and sustainable method for maintaining soil quality and water retention. In addition, livestock integrated with crop farming can stabilize and improve farming if pasture is planted on terraces to stop soil erosion thereby improving crop yields and at the same time providing animal feeds.
Improvement of animal health
The animals given to the farmers will need regular visits by veterinary staff to ensure their health. The veterinary service carries out regular surveillance and treatment of diseases, vaccinations and routine treatments like de-worming.
Some of these activities can be carried out by farmers themselves or by some members of a farmer’s cooperative. It is therefore the duty of the veterinary service providers to ensure that farmers get the basic training in animal health issues know signs of diseases and how to fight them.
With zero grazing, animal health in the country will generally improve and this will be supplemented with annual vaccination against major diseases. Offering of clinical services to the farming community will be part and parcel of the program.
The success of the entire program revolves around improvement of the genetic material that is available in the country so that there is more production especially milk.
The exercise involves having the ability to produce and distribute semen from improved breeds and improving artificial insemination by organizing and training many inseminators including farmers groups and cooperatives.
The government has purchased and equipped inseminators with insemination kits to ensure that they are well distributed and are used in the country.
• Increase the milk production through the genetic modification of bovines by a better transfer of technological innovations in the animal production systems.
• Owning of cattle keeping development initiatives by beneficiaries.
• Better productivity of bovines through rational use of imported genetic resources and human, resources material and financial resources to be incorporated in the programme and this contributing to the better cost/profit ratio.
• To increase the rural household income through the milk commodity chain development system due to bovines genetic modification programme.
For honey production, this transformation will involve capacity building and organization of people
involved in bee keeping.
A traditional bee hive collects about 7 kg while the modern one collects about 20 kg. The business plan envisages increasing the number of modern bee hives from 30,151 in 2005 to 322,007 by 2020.
This will increase the total tonnage of honey produced. At the same tome the number of traditional hives will be reduced from 130,850 in 2005 to 75,610 by 2020. Emphasis will be put in the extension messages on the production of organic honey as this is preferred.
The bee keepers in the country will further be assisted by rehabilitating areas where honey is processed before it is taken to the market including filtration so that it fetches more on the market.
Fishing is conducted by co-operatives and associations; mainly in the lakes of Kivu, Cyohoha, and Mugesera. Owing to inadequate restocking of fish in the lakes however, output is quite low.
Current efforts to develop the fishery industry include encouraging and supporting fish farming, by means of rehabilitating the old, and opening up new fish-ponds.
The constraint of skilled manpower shortage is being tackled through training of qualified personnel.
Rwanda’s livestock sub-sector strategy aims at increasing rural incomes, enhance food security, and convert agriculture into a viable sector by moving away from subsistence to market-based activities.